The Canoe Project
by Betsy Davis
Haida master carver Sāādūūts continues to carve canoes as part of CWB’s community. The carving project has expanded to become a partnership with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in anticipation of their new Northwest Native Canoe Center that will be built near the beach on the western side of Lake Union Park. Antioch University is another active partner in the program, with faculty member Cynthia Updegrove bringing classes to the park to meet and learn from Sāādūūts.
Sāādūūts named his program Carving Cultural Connections to reflect his philosophy: “Then there is the canoe as a cultural icon. The reason I began carving in the first place. I had to ask myself what a canoe really is. I mean, what does it mean to me as a native person, a Haida, a Tlingit? When we see images of canoes these days, we usually see what is called the ‘War’ canoe loaded with young native men all decked out in their ‘War’ gear with special ‘War’ paddles, but this is not the image that I see. I see the canoe as a sacred instrument and would consider it much like I would a ‘Big’ House or ‘Smoke’ House, a sacred place in which native peoples have practiced and conducted their cultural and spiritual lives within the context of community, tribe. I see the canoe as a sacred cultural instrument, a vessel, a place to practice what our ancestors have done for eons, the things that they have left for us, given us.”
Sāādūūts is passing along his carving traditions to his adopted nephew Brant Lodge, 26, of Lynnwood, Washington, and his grandson Brandon Mayer, who in turn are helping convey their culture and stories to the larger community. Brant has joined Sāādūūts in leading CWB’s newest educational field trips for middle school students, who paddle from CWB to the site of the canoe carving project. In addition to sharing information with visitors to Lake Union Park, Brent and Brandon have been interviewed by the Seattle Times and KIRO. In conjunction with the opening of The Museum of History & Industry The Seattle Channel produced a program about the project that is now archived and available for viewing on their website.
More information about The Canoe Project is available from Betsy Davis,
email@example.com; UNIAT board member Steve Paul, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Antioch faculty member Cynthia Updegrave, email@example.com.