Canoes, and the protocols attached to them, play a central role in cultural revitalization and resilience for many Indigenous nations of the Pacific Northwest. The revitalization of canoe culture is most visibly present in Tribal Journeys, a weeks-long paddle and gathering of Indigenous nations that annually brings together thousands of Native American/First Nations citizens. The Chinook Indian Nation has been an active and early participant in canoe resurgence in general, and Tribal Journeys specifically. For the Chinook, canoe protocols reflect a vision of “reciprocal heritage” that is located in embodied practice, is based in tribal cultural values of reciprocity and place, and is forward-looking. Perhaps most importantly, canoe culture and the performance of protocols occur explicitly outside of the framework of the colonial nation-state. In this sense the performance of protocol is not just an aspect of culture, it is fundamentally an act of decolonization.

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