The traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a is making its way through Southeast Alaska as the first part of its years-long global journey called Moananuiākea. It’s an adventure all about spreading a sense of care for the ocean and Indigenous knowledge.
The last Alaska stop of the journey will be in Hydaburg, on Prince of Wales Island. And Hydaburg’s mayor, Tony Christianson, said the community has a special connection to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the group behind the journey. One of the society’s vessels was built with trees that grew on Shelikof Island in Soda Bay, around six miles from town.
A Polynesian Voyaging Society archive says it could be the Hawai’iloa.
It’s a special connection that will be recognized when the crew arrives.
“One of the things we’ll do is bring the paddlers and the team that comes back out to the place where the trees were originated from,” he said.
The Hōkūle’a crew will visit communities all over Prince of Wales. There are events planned in Kasaan, Craig and Klawock. Then, residents from all over the island will be invited to a send-off event for them.
“I mean, just as being a community leader for years, to have a cultural exchange with the Hawaiians is real important,” he said. “You know, we have historical ties, going back to, you know, with the Hōkūle’a, the trees come right out of our local area there.”
Christianson said that the canoe is supposed to arrive in Hydaburg sometime around July 6th. Then, they’ll head to British Columbia.
Editor’s note: this story has been updated to reflect new information that makes it unclear which Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe might have logs from the area, although the crew will still make a visit to Soda Bay in honor of the contribution.