AP: Tribes combine science, canoes for water quality

The Associated Press had the following story about the Tribal Canoe Journey:

TSAWWASSEN, British Columbia — Pushing off one morning from a beach riddled with dead eelgrass, skipper Larry Nahanee plunked a scientific probe into the water and steered the hand-carved cedar canoe toward the next landing.

His ancestors, the Coast Salish Indians, had paddled the same waters to Washington for hundreds of years before him, using canoes as spiritual vessels.

This summer, as dozens of Northwest tribes make the same journey, their canoes will tow U.S. Geological Survey equipment to measure the health and quality of the water.

It’s melding science and native traditions and, participants say, a call to restore the waters between Washington and British Columbia, often referred to as the Salish Sea.

“The health of the Salish Sea is a very serious concern for us,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish tribe in Western Washington. “All tribes have been affected by the loss of natural resources that we have always lived on forever.”

“It’s not only a project of significance to the tribes but to all peoples that live here,” he said.

Every year, more than 100 canoes from Coast Salish tribes in Washington and British Columbia paddle for days from all directions to gather. When they converge at Suquamish near Seattle on Monday, five of those canoe families will also carry a wealth of data about Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca.