Canoe carved by Seattle students arrives in Hydaburg

Posted: Friday, April 09, 2004

KETCHIKAN (AP) A Haida war canoe made by Native students at a Seattle school has arrived in Hydaburg.

Students and teachers from the Washington school were in the Southeast Alaska town over the weekend to celebrate the arrival of the 40-foot red cedar canoe.

Students at Alternative School 1 in Seattle spent three years carving the canoe ''Ocean Spirit'' under the direction of Haida carver Robert ''Saaduuts'' Peele, who is from Hydaburg.

''It's had a wonderful mystique about it and bringing it north has just been magical,'' principal Ron Snyder said.

''This is a real canoe for change and bringing people together. It's been a real honor for us to work on it.''

The canoe arrived at Hydaburg on Sunday for an acceptance ceremony and songs. Ketchikan residents and dance groups from Craig, Klawock, Hydaburg and Met-lakatla attended the festivities.

The Seattle school has about 260 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It has an experiential, hands-on curriculum, Snyder said.

The canoe was carved from a red cedar log from the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia.

It features raven and eagles on the outside, and is painted red inside with gold-paint handprints.

''All over the inside are golden hands, and each hand is a carver placing their hand on the canoe in an uplifting way,'' Snyder told the Ketchikan Daily News.

''The eagles are in traditional colors and are beautifully coppered.''

The school water-tested the canoe in Puget Sound in February.

About 150 current AS1 students turned out for the February launching, along with former AS1 students who've gone on to middle school and members of tribes including the Haida and Tlingit of Alaska and the Duwamish and Snohomish of Washington state.

Peele, the Haida carver, said the canoe is intended ''to bring hope back.

''Everything about this is the focus on the children,'' he said. ''The whole school participated in the canoe, and a lot of love went into it, no negativity, no anger. It was teaching how to make it balanced, thinking about it, talking about it, living it.''

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