Tony Johnson: The Philosophy of Culture

Tony Johnson talks about the philosophies of the longhouse and canoe culture.

Bio: Tony Johnson is the tribal chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, as well as the chair of the tribal cultural committee. He is also the Cultural Education Director for the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe.


This kind of disruption that happened and the big changes that have happened along through our territory, it did a lot of damage to how we were staying together. On the other hand, there’s some really interesting parts of that culture that managed to come to us, today. And what I mean by that is there are philosophies. My dad has always talked about the philosophies of longhouse living. The ways that we were able to live with thirty, forty, fifty people in one home and the kind of discipline that took. And what was acceptable, what wasn’t. The taboos that we were concerned with and just this general philosophy about how you lived like that. Well, there’s always philosophy that he has spent his time teaching us and talking about which is a canoe philosophy and it’s really similar because when you’re in a canoe and you’re on the water, it’s really dangerous.¬† And the canoe, the way the canoe is treated, the way that we treat each other in the canoes. The way that we interact with the water and each other. It is really a genuine philosophy that is worth remembering.

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