Polynesian Voyaging Society Launches 4 Year Voyage Around the Pacific from Juneau; KIC Invites Community to Ketchikan Canoe Festivities
May 28, 2023
This MoananuiaŻkea Voyage, led by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), will make its global launch from Juneau, Alaska on June 15, 2023. The four-year expedition will cover an estimated 43,000 nautical miles around the Pacific, visiting 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and more than 300 ports. MoananuiaŻkea is the oceanic home for all peoples who are indigenous to islands and continents touched by Pacific waters.
The goal of the voyage is to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators'' by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world to take part in navigating earth towards a healthy, thriving future. The voyage itself is a global educational campaign that will amplify the vital importance of oceans and indigenous knowledge through port engagements, education and storytelling shared via a virtual “Third Canoe” called Wa?a Honua, which translates to “a canoe for the earth” (www.waahonua.com). PVS and its educational partners are creating stories, and lessons for all ages with the goal of inspiring people to care for and make better choices for the earth.
The double-hulled voyaging canoe arrived in Juneau, Alaska on May 9 on an Alaska Marine Lines barge after being shipped from Honolulu to Tacoma, WA in April. Prior to the MoananuiaŻkea Voyage’s Global Launch on June 15, 2023, HoŻkuŻle?a has been sailing through a portion of Southeast Alaska on a pre-launch voyage called the Alaska Heritage Sail to pay homage to Alaska Natives and the places that played a part in the 30-year history between Hawai?i’s voyaging community and Alaska. PVS chose Yakutat to be the first stop on the Alaska Heritage Sail to honor the late Byron Mallott who was born and raised there. In 1990 under Mallott’s leadership, Sealaska, a corporation owned by the Tlingit, Haida and Tshimshian tribes of Southeast Alaska, gifted two 200-foot Sitka spruce logs to Hawai‘i to help construct the voyaging canoe Hawai‘iloa. This kind gesture, which came at a time of decline for Hawaii’s native koa trees, sparked reforestation efforts on Hawai‘i Island, and started the special bond between the native peoples of Southeastern Alaska and Hawai'i. Byron later joined the PVS Board of Directors.
HoŻkuŻle?a also will stop in Hoonah to honor former Sealaska Forestry Manager Ernie Hillman tasked with finding two 200-foot tall Spruce trees, large enough to build Hawai‘iloa?s hulls. The trees were found on Shelikof Island, west of Ketchikan, Alaska. Hokule’a and crew will also stop in Haines in honor of Judson Brown, who was from, and is laid to rest, in a village about 20 miles north up the Chilkat river system (unaccessible for Hokule?a). In 1990, Judson, an Alaska Native elder, received a call from PVS co-founder Herb Kawainui Kane, who asked for help in finding the logs for Hawai’iloa. It was Judson’s profound kindness, friendship and compassion for another native people trying to revive and hold onto tradition that lead us to Byron and Ernie, and ultimately, as Judson said, the “gift of our children.”
“We begin with a 31-year relationship with the native people of southeast Alaska. And I think Alaska is the appropriate place to begin because in the end this is about family — the family of the earth. And so we go from one family to another, building relationships grounded in respect and trust - a crucial pathway for peace.” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator and CEO of PVS.
On June 10, HoŻkuŻle?a is scheduled to return to Juneau and will be welcomed at Auke Bay, the traditional lands of the A'akw Kwáan. The canoe and crew will remain in Juneau for a few days of community and educational engagements. The Alaska Host Committee includes representatives from Sealaska Corp., First Nations Institute and Tlingit & Haida Tribes of Alaska.
On Thursday, June 15, PVS will hold the Global Launch of MoananuiaŻkea Voyage, a four-hour ceremony to bless and celebrate the start of HoŻkuŻle?a’s circumnavigation of the Pacific. HoŻkuŻle?a’s departure will be dependent on weather. Upon departure, she will voyage south with scheduled stops in Angoon, Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla and Hydaburg.
HoŻkuŻle?a’s sister canoe Hikianalia will join the voyage in Seattle, WA in August of this year.
KIC Invites Community to Ketchikan Canoe Festivities
Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) is gearing up for a series of exciting summer events that revolve around canoes. The community is invited to join the festivities starting with a Canoe Awakening Celebration at Bar Harbor boat launch on Friday, June 2 at 1:00 p.m. KIC will also host the Polynesian Voyaging Society's H?k?le’a crew in Ketchikan on their Moananui?kea Voyage (Voyage for the Earth) on or about July 5.
During the Canoe Awakening ceremony, KIC leaders will bless and name their new 36-foot canoe. The event will also honor the memory of Marvin Oliver, a talented canoe builder who passed away before he could see the awakening of the canoe he created.
Canoes have always been essential to the indigenous way of life, with local tribes using them to traverse the waterways of Southeast Alaska and western Canada for fishing, hunting, and gathering. KIC's new canoe symbolizes a growing movement of indigenous canoeing that is reconnecting tribes with their culture and each other by taking canoe journeys along the coastal waterways of Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.
As part of this movement, KIC may be chosen to host the 2027 Intertribal Canoe Journey, anticipating between 3,000 and 5,000 people in attendance.
KIC will host the crew of the Moananui?kea: Voyage for Earth
Quoting a news release, "KIC is also excited to welcome the crew of the Moananui?kea: Voyage for Earth, a 47-month, 43,000 nautical mile journey that aims to circumnavigate the Pacific by two traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes. The crew, which includes 400 members, will visit 36 countries, nearly 100 indigenous territories, and 345 ports."
During their three-day stay in Ketchikan, the H?k?le’a crew hopes to engage with the community through a presentation at the Discovery Center on July 6, as they strive to develop young people who will help to achieve their primary purpose—igniting a movement of 10 million "planetary navigators".
President Norm Skan expressed excitement about the upcoming events, stating that "canoes become a powerful vehicle to help us reconnect with the traditional way of life of our ancestors while inviting community members to join us in the continuation of our way of life."
A symbol of cultural revival, H?k?le?a’s story is being shared on this journey to inspire other indigenous communities. This replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe was built 49 years ago and revitalized voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific. The canoe’s twin hulls allow her to handle large ocean swells and recover easily in the troughs of waves, and her triangular canvas sails can harness winds up to 20 knots. H?k?le?a first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Through the revival of the traditional art and science of wayfinding–navigating the sea guided by nature using the ocean swells, stars, and wind–H?k?le?a sparked a Hawaiian cultural renaissance and has reawakened the world’s sense of pride and strength as voyagers charting a course for our Island Earth. H?k?le’a continues to bring people together from all walks of life. She is more than a voyaging canoe—she represents the common desire shared by the people of Hawaii, the Pacific, and the World to protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.