After 4 long years, Tribes throughout the Northwest came together for their Annual Canoe Journey. This year, canoes from Canada, Washington, Oregon, Hawai’i, Alaska, and other areas paddled to Muckleshoot, Washington, for a week for cultural sharing, spiritual healing, and good medicine.
The Klallam welcomed canoes which landed in their territory. Canoes were welcomed at 6 locations within the Usual and Accustomed areas. There were more than 30 canoes that were welcomed on the shores of Lower Elwha.
NUCEC Male Co-President Jonathan Arakawa, who is Lower Elwha Klallam, was able to attend his tribe’s yearly canoe celebration while representing on behalf of UNITY!
“Much of my days were spent welcoming canoes and figuring our logistics for our canoes families – whether it was taking calls, sending our messages, posting information on social media, it is a wonderful feeling ensuring our families are taken care of.” – Arakawa
“I traveled to one of our neighboring communities, Suquamish, where 91 canoes landed. We were well taken care of by our Suquamish hosts. We spent two days there witnessing families share their songs and dances during protocol. During the Suquamish days, I had the honor of being interviewed by Faith Iukes, who was covering the Canoe Journeys on behalf of UNITY. I shared the importance of Canoe Journeys and why it’s important for our Native youth to learn their traditions. Equally an honor, I was happy to run into two of our former NUC Co-Presidents, SuSun Fisher and Izaiah Fisher. Their words of encouragement for our upcoming was meaningful. This is the blessing of UNITY family, we all support one another.” – Arakawa
After Suquamish, the local families traveled to Muckleshoot for the final landing where all were welcomed with open arms by the host Nation. There were around 120 canoes that landed!
“We spent a week in Muckleshoot where all families who paddled shared their songs, dances, and words. It was amazing to see some Native youth sporting their UNITY attire.” – Arakawa
Jonathan Arakawa, UNITY Co-President
Tribe: Lower Elwha Klallam, Washington
Jonathan Arakawa is an enrolled member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. He attends the Evergreen State College, where he studies for his Bachelor’s in Tribal Governance. He has served in various elected and appointed positions in non-profit organizations, tribal governments, educational institutions, and state agencies throughout the United States. Mr. Arakawa began his leadership journey at age 12. His leadership journey taught him to uphold his instilled values of leadership, organization, culture, spirituality, and traditional teachings in pursuit of his service to Indian Country.
He currently serves as Male Co-President on the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. He previously served as Secretary and Northwest Representative for two years. In addition, Mr. Arakawa works as a certified Klallam language teacher, teaching middle school, high school, and college students. His policy platform involves having the full and accurate tribal history taught in public schools across the United States, ensuring an equitable and inclusive educational system for Native American students. Mr. Arakawa is committed to working with Tribal Nations’ counterparts at the local, regional, state, and federal levels to address issues that affect Native youth and Indian Country. He believes everyone has a place, every single person is a leader, and when Tribal Nations come together as a Native America, Indian Country’s collective strength is impactful and immeasurable. Some of Mr. Arakawa’s proud honors include UNITY’s 25 Under 25 National Leadership Recognition and NCAI-IGA Chairman’s Youth Leadership Awards.
Jonathan Arakawa, UNITY Co-President