Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

The Northwest-Alaska and West Coast Tours

Photo Below: Totem Poles in the Twilight: Klawock, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

On May 15, Hawai'iloa and Hokule'a left Hawai'i on board a Matson container ship bound for Seattle. Hawai'iloa planned to visit Ketchikan and Juneau to thank the Tlingit, Haida and Tshimshian tribes of Sealaska for donating the two Sitka spruce logs for t he canoe's hulls and to engage in cultural and educational exchanges with the First Nations of British Columbia and the Hawaiian community and natives of Southeast Alaska. Hokule'a planned to head south to share its rich history with Hawaiians, native Ame ricans, and others along the West Coast. From Seattle to Vancouver, Hawai'iloa was captained by Chad Baybayan; Hokule'a by Gordon Pi'ianai'a.

On May 27-28 the two canoes were welcomed at a festival at Golden Gardens Park, Shilshole Marina, Washington. From May 28-June 1, Hokule'a visited Tacoma as guests of the Puyallup tribe while Hawai'iloa was on display at the Center for Wooden Boats. From June 1 - 6, both crews visited the Suquamish Reservation on Bainbridge Island; the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham; the Swimnosh Reservation Long House. On June 7, the two canoes went to Vancouver, British Columbia, and docked at the Maritime Museum. Fr om June 8-11, they were welcomed by the Musqueam tribe of Vancouver and the Hawaiian community of British Columbia. The two canoes then parted ways, Hawai'iloa going north and Hokule'a going south.

Hawai'iloa's Northwest Journey: Hawai'iloa, under Captain Bruce Blankenfeld, traveled to Vancouver Island, stopping at Campbell River, Alert Bay, and Port Hardy, where the crew was hosted by the Kwagiutl Nation. The escort boat was Mark Alan, a 58- foot seine net boat owned by Hutch Hunt of Fort Rupert. The canoe continued on through the Inland Passage stopping at Bella Bella (Heiltsuk Nation), Bishop Cove (hot springs), Lowe's Inlet (Dungeness crab spot!), Prince Rupert (Tshim-shian, Haida, and Nis ga'a Nations), and Port Simpson (Tshimshian).

On June 25, the canoe crossed the Dixon Entrance into Alaska, guided by Ernie Hillman, a forest manager for Sealaska. It arrived in Ketchikan, where a huge gathering of Tlingits, Tshimshians, and Haidas greeted the crew at a potlatch at the village of Sax man. Hawai'iloa Project Director Nainoa Thomspon formally thanked Sealaska, Tlingit elder Judson Brown, former Sealaska CEO Byron Mallot, and Ernie Hillman for their roles in securing the logs.

The canoe then continued on under Captain Wally Froiseth to Hollis, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, Angoon, Sitka, Hoonah, Haines / Klukwan, and Juneau, where events culminated in a dinner and a seminar on a sustainable future. High school students from Hawai 'i joined the crew in Haines. The crew was hosted throughout Alaska by native village corporations and the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, native dance groups, as well as Sealaska, the regional native corporation for SE Alaska. The two-month lon g journey was highly successful in bringing together the indigenous grouops of B.C. and Alaska, and the Hawaiians.

Hawai'iloa was barged from Juneau to Seattle by Alaska Marine Lines and to Honolulu by Aloha Cargo Transport; both companies donated their services. The Voyaging Society also received generous financial support form the Cooke and Atherton Foundations, Gra ce Pacific, Bank of America, the Skaggs Foundation, native councils and corporations of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, and private individuals.

Hokule'a's West Coast Journey: While Hawai'iloa made its way to Juneau, Hokule'a went south, with stops in Portland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, and San Diego. The canoe was escorted by the 72-foot Coast Pilot, under Tony Carter. In San Francisco, Hokule'a was greeted by 32 paddling canoes and showered with orchids from the Golden Gate Bridge. A crowd estimated in the thousands gathered to greet the canoe.

For Captain Gordon Pi'ianai'a, the most meaningful part of the trip were the connections made with transplated Hawaiians, some of whom had never been to Hawai'i. He also said that he learned a lot about native Americans on the West Coast. "The farther sou th we went, the fewer cultural and financial resources they had," he pointed out. Crew member Moana Doi reported that excitement and interest was great at each of the stops, with long lines of visitors to the canoe. She said at one stop, the crew was invi ted to a sweat lodge to participate in a native American purification cermony.

Kimo Lyman, Mike Tongg, and Chad Baybayan served as captains of the canoe. Hokule'a's West Coast Tour was sponsored by the Bishop Museum and the Hawaii Maritime Center. Alexander and Baldwin Foundation / Matson donated the shipping of Hokule'a to the West coast and back; and the shipping of Hawai'iloa to the West Coast. Hawaiian Airlines donated fares for the crews of West Coast Tour; it discounted fares for the crews of the Northwest Tour.