Canoe journeys, apparently some are shorter than others. What’s for certain is that the Puyallup Canoe family and the Water Warriors couldn’t pass this opportunity up. The attention of the people of Tacoma and surrounding area turned toward the Tacoma Waterfront this Saturday for The Festival of Sail. Onlookers in their thousands came to this three-day event to gawk at the splendor of the wood marvels. The plan: Inform as many visitors as possible about the proposed Fracked Gas facility and its dangers.
The area along the Foss Waterway was packed with food trucks and exhibits. There were local would-be politicians working the crowd in the hopes of swaying local voters to choose them in the upcoming elections. We saw people in matching polo shirts parked in booths that were peddling information and corporate spin. It all added to the atmosphere. The big new attraction this year was a giant inflatable ‘Rubber’ Duck. The yellow giant attracted plenty of attention, particularly from the media!
The main attraction, though, is the ships themselves. With their sails open, the tall ships evoke romantic images of a bygone era to many of the visitors.
To the people of the local Puyallup tribe, however, the sight of these ships in their traditional estuary evoked genetic memories of colonization and the brutality that followed. This was the perfect opportunity to stand against the continued genocide of their people and violation of their treaty rights and traditional lands.
Allies and Indians
Puyallup tribal council member, David Z Bean has a saying; ‘What affects one of us, affects all of us.’ This dangerous fossil fuel project exemplifies that.
RedLine Tacoma organized a typically strong rally to support an indigenous day of action. They brought fliers, banners, and numbers to the supporting protest on the 11th Street Bridge which overlooks the Foss. They also provided food to canoe pullers after the event was over. Also present were Save Tacoma Water and Tacoma Direct Action. The Backbone Campaign showed amazing solidarity by bringing a support boat and flying a giant NOLNG banner behind them.
It was a thought-provoking image; A tiny coastal canoe with its pullers singing prayer songs to the water pulling up alongside the giant ships. An act of defiance that reminded us all of all that was lost after the original first contact. In these waters and between similar looking boats and canoes, that contact turned out to be a fateful one for the first peoples of this land. In some ways, this was how it started. As the Canoe passed under the bridge, a march led by indigenous activists carried the sound of drum and song down the spiral staircase that leads from Bridge to Dock Street. Once every last person was safely gathered at the bottom the march proceeded along the promenade. Here the activists were able to greet the Canoe family and talk to curious onlookers.