Photos by Jarrette Werk, Carrie Johnson and Karina Brown

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Early risers set up chairs and blankets along the shore at Alki Beach in Seattle Sunday morning, preparing for the arrival of hundreds of canoes from all across the Salish Sea and beyond.

One by one, each canoe family took turns asking for permission to land from this year’s host, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

“Traditionally, you have to ask permission to come ashore into another nation’s territory,” said Jolene Lozier, Muckleshoot and Yakama. “When you see the canoes coming in, you’re gonna see them raise their paddles up three times. And that means, ‘I come in peace.’”

Representatives aboard each canoe introduced themselves – first in their tribal language and then in English. Some parts of each request were unique. Others were often repeated.

One phrase was included in nearly every representative’s request: “We are hungry, we are tired, please give us permission to land.”

Canoe families from across the Salish Sea, and even across the world traveled to Muckleshoot, including families from New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska.

After each request, a Muckleshoot representative responded, again with a combination of their own unique greeting and one said every time.

“You have permission to come ashore,” was a repeated phrase followed by cheers from the crowd and the roar of paddles pounding on the base of the canoe.

After carrying each canoe onto the beach, paddlers visited with friends and family. Already exhausted from a long journey, canoe families will participate in protocol at the Muckleshoot Community Center beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday and continuing 24 hours a day for a week.

Starting with those who paddled the farthest, each canoe family will introduce themselves, sharing their traditional songs and dance.

“It’s kind of like a more traditional version of a powwow,” Lozier said.

One hundred and twenty canoe families traveled from all up and down the Pacific Northwest coast to make it to the landing at Alki Beach, in Seattle. Some made a longer journey, paddling from New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii. (Photo by Carrie Johnson / Underscore News)

At Alki Beach, canoe families lined up in the water, waiting their turn to request permission to come ashore. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

Eager bystanders at Alki Beach waded through the water to greet each canoe family with open arms, as they made it to their final destination. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

Muckleshoot tribal members took turns welcoming each canoe family ashore. (Photo by Karina Brown / Underscore News)

Jolene Lozier, Muckleshoot and Yakama, poses for a portrait before canoe families arrive at Alki Beach. An art and culture teacher for Muckleshoot Tribal School, Lozier was a puller during the Canoe Journey Muckleshoot hosted in 2006. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

Kendra Cross waits to welcome canoe families to Alki Beach with her kids: one-year-old Cade Cross, five-year-old Xyleena Cross-Penn and Erickah Moses, 10. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

Sharing traditional knowledge is an integral part of canoe journey, with stories and songs passing to the next generation of paddlers. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

A young puller stands proud and diligent at the front of their canoe, respectfully waiting their turn to come ashore. Their tribal regalia speaks to the importance of representing traditional values. (Photo by Carrie Johnson / Underscore News)

Snoqualmie tribal Chairman Robert de los Angeles stands in front of canoes resting at Alki beach, wearing his traditional vest and hat, made from the bark of a red cedar tree. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

As they approached the beach, pullers held their paddles upright to show that they come in peace. Once granted permission to land, they pounded their paddle on the base of the canoe with gratitude. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

After getting permission to land, canoe families carried their canoes ashore, with the help of community members on the beach. (Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

Lead photo: Skaydu Û Jules, Eagle/Killer Whale Clan of Teslin Tlingit people in southern Yukon, introduced her canoe family in Tlingit. “Being on the water, it felt like I was lifted up by our ancestors,” she said. Photo by Jarrette Werk / Underscore News & Report for America)

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Nika is a journalist with a passion for working to center the voices and experiences of communities often left behind in mainstream media coverage. Of Osage and Oneida Nations descent, with Northern European...