Flaming Star of Duncan, British Columbia, pulls ahead of Rikkole Cree of the Lummi Nation, Washington in the 11-man canoe races in Fidalgo Bay, Anacortes, Washington, hosted by the Samish Indian Nation on June 25. Samish hosted its first war canoe races in 10 years.

Samish Nation Revives Anacortes Canoe Races

Richard Walker

The Samish Indian Nation hosted its first war canoe races in 10 years, June 25 in Fidalgo Bay, Anacortes, Washington. Prior to the earlier races, races hadn’t been held in Samish’s territory, according to one Samish informant, since the 1930s.

Several Northwest Coast First Nations competed in the races, among them Chehalis, Cowichan, Lummi, Nooksack, Squamish, Sts’ailes and Sto:lo.

The races coincided with the 15th anniversary of Samish’s restoration of its government-to-government relationship with the United States. Samish was omitted from a BIA list of recognized tribes in 1969; its government-to-government relationship was restored in 1996.

Samish officials said they want the races to be an annual event. Race official Roy Daniels, Malahat, said he expects more British Columbia First Nations will participate next year if it’s a two-day event. And George Adams, Nooksack, said Fidalgo Bay is ideal for races: Relatively calm with no fast current. “With this kind of tide, it’s perfect,” he said.

The day began with a ceremony honoring the Maiden of Deception Pass, who married a sea being to guarantee salmon runs for her people. After the races, at its Fidalgo Bay Resort, Samish hosted storytelling by Roger Fernandes, Lower Elwha Klallam; a public dinner of salmon, clams and crab; and gifting.

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