Stories from the Canoe Premiere

Canoes have always been integral to our region’s Indigenous cultures and they still are today. That’s the focus of a new film collaboration between Confluence and Tule Films. Stories from the Canoe is the new documentary short by filmmaker Woodrow Hunt (Klamath/Modoc/Cherokee). It explores the history and ongoing development of Canoe Journey. NW Documentary also contributed to the project. This week, Tribal Canoe Families gathered to celebrate the release of the new film at a screening in collaboration with PAM CUT and the Portland Art Museum. The celebration included Tribal singing, drumming, and prayers, followed by a panel discussion with Canoe Skippers. Stories from the Canoe is jointly funded by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.

Watch here.

This canoe film project was conceived originally as a public gathering. Several years ago Tribal leaders envisioned a Native canoe race and celebration of culture. The idea was that Confluence could facilitate the gathering rather than act as a formal host. CanoeFluence—as the race event became known—would be an opportunity for canoe family members to compete and share culture. As the pandemic wore on, we had to transition our plans to instead focusing on the film. Though a long way from the original idea, the film’s premiere screening became an opportunity for Canoe Families to gather and share culture to keep this Indigenous movement strong into the future.

Filmmaker Woodrow Hunt, with skippers from Canoe Families. Left to right: Brian Krehbiel (Grand Ronde), Sam Robinson (Chinook), Bobby Mercier (Grand Ronde), Jefferson Greene (Warm Springs), Jacelyn Lowley (Coeur d'Alene/Colville), and Tsali Cross (Cherokee/Caddo).