Language Department helps community prepare for Paddle to Puyallup 2018

As the Puyallup community prepares for the Power Paddle to Puyallup, the Puyallup Tribal Language Program provides its support with the Twulshootseed language. Many Puyallup Tribal members express their interest in speaking Twulshootseed during the journey. These requests include introducing themselves, greeting canoes and protocol.

In preparation to get the community speaking the tribal language, the Language Program has hosted seven four-hour community classes this year to get the members speaking and using the language daily in their lives. These classes have led up to their final Canoe Journey class, which was held on June 2.

The Language Program gave the community a glimpse into what Canoe Journey could look like if Twulshootseed were used. They presented one way out of many ways to incorporate the language. The staff made it very clear that they were not teaching canoe culture, but were sharing a way to use the language during this historic event.

The staff presented a one-hour immersion, simulating language use during Canoe Journey. This included: paddling, canoe commands, songs, request to come ashore, permission to come ashore, introductions, prayer, dinner blessing/song, gifting, protocol, request to leave shore and permission to leave shore.

The Puyallup community class, full of Puyallup Tribal members, their families and community members, were provided with Canoe Journey workbooks to use as they learned to introduce themselves and their families. The class of 100 worked with the Language Program staff on their personal introductions. Next, they worked on greeting large crowds during protocol. It was powerful to hear the entire group, in unison, hands raised high in the air speaking in their ancestral language. “txʷəl gʷəlapu, txʷəl gʷəlapu, gʷəlapu dʔiišəd, dsyayayəʔ. ʔəsbutbutlačibitubuɫəd čəɫ. ʔəsḱʷədiitubuɫəd čəɫ bəḱʷ gʷəlapu.” “To all of you folks, to all of you folks, my friends, my relations. We raise our hands to you folks. We are praisingly grateful to each and every one of you.”

Since the Canoe Journey community class, tribal members have been putting their language to use at Culture Program’s Song and Dance, Chief Leschi Schools, and graduation.

The Language Program hopes to help many more tribal members now, and in the future, with their animated Twulshootseed Canoe Journey video. This video will be completed before the canoes arrive in Puyallup with all the materials presented at the community class, plus more. To learn more, please visit the Puyallup Tribal Language Program website at

The Canoe Journey community language class was also live streamed on Facebook at