“Remember the Water” with the Kalispel Tribe

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Occasionally business and personal interests come together in unique ways. This happened August 3-5 when I joined the Kalispel Tribe of Indians on a 51-mile “Remember the Water” canoe paddle on the Pend Oreille River from Sandpoint, ID to the Tribe’s pow wow grounds in Usk, WA. For centuries, the river was a “highway” for the Kalispels as they traveled to Pend Oreille Lake for fishing, gathering, trading and meeting with other tribes.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians has been a valued client of ours ever since we designed their logo years ago — an image depicting two tribal members in a traditional sturgeon nose canoe. At that time, I had no idea that Kalispel canoes would one day come to life through an experience I shared with the tribe.


I love paddling flatwater kayaks, and have traveled the 124-mile Spokane River and have made several multi-day kayak trips on PNW lakes and in the Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island

Recently, the tribe constructed a 31-foot traditional dugout canoe from a cedar log provided by the Quinault Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. Five other regional tribes also received logs to build their own canoes — including the Spokanes and Coeur d’Alenes.

This paddle from the ancestral waters and lands of the Kalispel Tribe was a very special trip.


I traveled with the group for three days, camping on the shore of the Pend Oreille River and keeping pace with the 5-person canoes from the seat of my 17-foot wood kayak. I was exposed to tribal drumming, songs and prayers before each launch and watched the native paddlers receive recognition and honor from attendees at the 42nd-annual Kalispel Pow Wow.

I took photos and video of the journey, recorded interviews with tribal elders and learned the importance of being on the river in traditional canoes after decades of not traveling in this manner. I also wrote and illustrated a journal documenting the trip from my perspective. The Tribe will be able to use these resources in their website, social media and other promotions relating to their cultural history and canoeing programs.

It was great that business and my personal interests came together through this trip and project.