Special Spirit Power, War Spirit Power, Thunder Power and Chain Lightning was unique to the Dungeness people. The S'Klallams would display this power in the manner that they entered a village for a potlatch or gathering.

From the Dance Plaza House Post Carvings - Dale Faulstich, Lead Carver and Designer.
Assistant Carvers: Nathan Gillis and  Ed Charles.  Volunteer carvers:  Harry Burlingone and Don Walsh.

S'Klallam Tribe

1033 Old Blyn Hwy
Sequim, WA 98382
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jamestown Canoe Journey Blog 



June 27: Cold Water Training


Whew! This day was exhilarating and exhausting.


Marlin directs his crew to begin paddling away from the dock, with the other canoe already pulling away in the background.

Marlin let those present know that we were “on the journey” – in other words, having come this far, and having showed up for Cold Water Training, we had met the criteria for participating in the Paddle to Suquamish.

Then Enforcement Officer Andy Axelson spoke to us about water safety, explaining the buddy system; the need to cinch up our life vests (pfds – personal floatation devices) tightly so that they wouldn’t ride up over our heads when we hit the water; how to spot the effects of hypothermia and what to do if someone was suffering from it. He explained that the water in the Strait is 55˚F – cold enough for hypothermia to set in after 30-60 minutes in the water. Ideally, when we roll the canoes, we should be able to account for one another, flip the canoe, bail out the water, and get everyone back in within 8 minutes. We’re all a bit nervous!

Marlin gave us our canoe assignments for the entire journey:

Laxaynəm: Skipper Marlin Holden, Josh Holden, Steve Johnson, Kissendra Johnson, Unique Robinson, Irv Mortensen, Caleb Champagne, Andrea Champagne, Marie Champagne, Sherry MacGregor, Nikki Sather, Taya Dancel.

Unnamed Canoe (soon to be named): Skipper Paul Bowlby, Healther Johnson-Jock, Jessica (Johnson) Creech, Andrew Sampson, John Bridge, Candy Burkhardt, Betty Oppenheimer, Charlene Dick, Jorene Dick (and Audrey McWalter and Jeff Monson, who were absent today).

We had a purifying smudging ceremony, and Marlin talked about the transformative nature of the Journey. He explained that the journey could help direct us to our true paths in life, and compared life to a farmer planting crops. Done well, a farmer plants the right crops and thrives. At times, the farmer might plant the wrong crops and have to correct his course. Either way, the journey will offer each of us an opportunity to look at the seeds we’ve sown and evaluate their success. Together we pray for a safe day on the water.

We put in the canoes at the boat ramp and paddled out into Sequim Bay. The winds were high, and our singing voices carried off into the breeze. The Squeetzee (the Tribe’s new Enforcement boat, which means Sea Urchin) followed us with Enforcement Officer Andy Axelson and Natural Resources Technician Bob DeLorm at the helm. After an hour or so, Marlin had the Laxaynəm pull alongside the Squeetzee to practice tying up. It took a while to get the ropes to the proper lengths (since last year, we used the Whitefeather, and everything had been arranged accordingly). Once the canoe was secured, the crew disembarked the canoe and came aboard the Squeetzee for a few minutes.

Sherry, Unique, Kissendra and Caleb take a moment to relax on the Squeetzee.

Meanwhile, the unnamed canoe crew paddled around, staying close to the Squeetzee and watching the process. After the Laxaynəm crew got back into the canoe and took off, the second canoe approached the Squeetzee and tied up. We all learned a thing or two about ropes, knots, keeping our hands out of the way, and keeping the canoe balanced as we get in and out of it. Andy, a former Oregon State Patrolman who hasn’t been on a Tribal Canoe Journey yet, got to practice working with the 35+-foot canoes.

Andy and Paul tie the canoe onto the Squeetzee while the pullers prepare to disembark. 

Then we paddled toward the Sequim Bay shore south of the Marina. At the beach, the Laxaynəm crew practiced using the straps and floats which were designed to help lift the 1200-pound canoe out of the water.


The straps and floats Marlin had made last year really help us get a grip on the 1500 pound canoe.

We dropped off the gear we wanted to keep dry, and paddled both canoes out into 14-foot waters. The unnamed canoe was first to roll over, spilling the nine of us into the frigid waters. After a few seconds to get our bearings, and certain that all of us were ok, we righted the canoe and Candy, being the smallest of us, began bailing with all of her might – and wow - did she bail at record speed! As the canoe floated up higher, one by one, we were each helped into the canoe. It was very fast, and very much a team effort.

We all prepared to lean to the left and tip the canoe.

For a brief moment, we were all underwater and behind the canoe.

We’re all OK! Skipper Paul made sure we were all ok, and we each checked for our buddy (our canoe seatmate).

Candy was the first to get back in and start bailing, while the rest of us helped from the water as best we could.

As soon as we were done, the Laxaynəm crew rolled over and did the same exercise. Though no one was timing us, it seemed that both crews had done the cold water training in less than 10 minutes each. 

Cold and wet, we paddled ashore to retrieve our gear. Some of us ran up to our cars to get dry clothes. Having been completely submerged, we all commented how warm the shallow water felt on our feet! We reboarded and took off again, to paddle the canoes back into the Marina boat ramp. As we exited the sheltered bay, we were hit head-on by fierce winds. Each of us realized, as we pulled together, that although exhilarating, being in the cold water had been exhausting, and it took all of our energy to paddle back to land. As we tied onto the dock, the Squeetzee plied past, honking its goodbye for the day. 

Once ashore, Marlin exclaimed, “We did great! And we don’t have to do that again!” Back in the parking lot, we all dried off and congratulated each other on a job well done. We learned a lot – about safety and teamwork. 

For the rest of our practices, we’ll be concentrating on stamina – going out for 3-4 hours at a clip on July 11 and 25. On July 18, we’ll be practicing our singing and drumming. And on August 1, our journey will begin very early in the morning!

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