The traditional voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a captured statewide attention as it stopped in several Southeast Alaska ports. The regional tour was kicking off its Moananuiākea journey, which is all about Indigenous knowledge and love for the ocean.
The Alaska leg of the global journey ended after visits to Metlakatla and Prince of Wales Island earlier this month.
The Hōkūle’a was towed most of the way from Metlakatla to Hydaburg, since the water was so calm. Lohiao Paoa said that’s pretty rare. The canoe’s crew usually relies on twin sails.
“We got to sail more than halfway across the Dixon Entrance,” he said.
Paoa is a crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s traditional double-hulled canoe. He said in Metlakatla, there was a lot of drumming and celebration.
“They had really nice songs and dances and all the kids from one-year-olds were playing the drums and dancing together with elders,” he said.
And on Prince of Wales Island, the crew visited Hydaburg, Kasaan, Craig and Klawock. They were welcomed and received tours in each community. A send-off was held in Hydaburg. Hydaburg has a special connection to the Polynesian Voyaging Society – a different voyaging canoe was built with logs harvested from a bay just six miles away from the town.
“Every community was really nice and treated us with respect and gave a history of their community, as well as a lot of gifts, which is amazing,” he said.
While finishing the Alaska journey, Paoa noticed how similar Alaska’s Indigenous communities are to Hawaii’s islands.
“It’s crazy to see how connected all these tribes are,” he said. “And I think it’s very similar to Hawaii’s islands and how the people are related back home.”
Now, the canoe crew has moved on to Canada. After stopping in Haida Gwaii, the Hōkūle’a is expected to head toward Prince Rupert, British Columbia at the end of the week.