Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dozens of Native-Americans from the Cowlitz tribe landed on the shores of Fort Vancouver in a traditional canoelanding celebration on Tuesday.

Tanna Engdahl, a Cowlitz descent, stood at the shore with a smile, while watching almost two dozen people carried an 800 pound canoe.

canoe_620_small.jpgLucila Cejas Epple / OPB

"This journey is to remember that time our ancestors had of freedom of all the waterways, and it is to commemorate, not only the past, but the fact that all the descendants are alive and thriving and proud of their heritage, their tradition, their lifeway and their legacy," she said.

Tribal members said this event is an important moment for the communities.

Mike Yates, also a Cowlitz decent explained, "This is not about nations being in the same place, it is about families coming together. We are all families, and we celebrate our traditions and our cultures."

The canoe landing was followed by a meal with salmon and fried bread among other traditional dishes. Later at night, there were spiritual ceremonies among the Cowlitz tribe members.

Organizers said another tribal canoe ceremony is scheduled for July 29 at 2 p.m. at Olympia, Washington. Over 100 canoes will be arriving and the festivities will last a week.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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