Local News

Paddlers arrive safe but wet in Saxman

A lone paddler waits to maneuver a canoe next to a boat for towing Thursday near Saxman.

After paddling through great weather all the way from Metlakatla, British Columbia, to Metlakatla, Alaska, a group retracing a historic Tsimshian route finally got a little rain on the last leg of the journey, a quick jaunt Thursday from Alaska’s Met to the Tlingit Village of Saxman, just down the road from Ketchikan.

Soaked paddlers board a bus after completing their journey from Metlakatla, BC, to Metlakatla, Alaska, and finally to Saxman.

The paddlers were greeted with drums by local tribal members, and then hung out in the rain for a while celebrating the end of their traditional voyage before boarding a nontraditional bus to go dry off.

“It was amazing,” said Kayla Robinson. “Because we met new people and we have a whole new family.”

Robinson is a very enthusiastic paddler from the Canadian Metlakatla. The six canoes carried paddlers from Canada and Alaska for this last part of the voyage.

About 100 paddlers left the British Columbia village on July 31. They arrived in Metlakatla, Alaska, in time for Founders Day on Wednesday.

Southeast’s Metlakatla was founded about 120 years ago by followers of Anglican missionary William Duncan. They canoed from their old home to the newly created Indian reservation on Annette Island, following a religious dispute.

A potlatch honoring the paddlers was planned for Thursday night.

A colorful canoe is towed from Saxman after a group of paddlers landed and disembarked.

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