The Young Men's Clean And Sober Canoe Project - Poem by Frances Sueco
In a deep green Washington forest was found
A huge cedar log both sturdy and sound. A mill owner claimed it and had the right
To saw it up or sell it on sight To the Young Men's Clean and Sober group-
A Makah Indian canoe-making troop. He chose to help and delivered the prize
Right to Paul's house, despite it's size. That log was five by thirty feet--
To make a canoe would be quite a feat. Then did those boys, determined and proud,
Tried and cold, but still unbowed, Begin to chip, with traditional tools,
And shape a boat according to rules. They built a canoe, like the olden days,
Preserving in culture the grandfather's ways. The inside they painted a pleasing red,
A color that stands for courage 'tis said. Seats and paddles are a neutral hue.
The black outside frames a name that's new. The name's in white and it's T'A T'A K'wIK.
The name describes the goal they seek. "Those who hang on with claws" it means,
and that's what they plan to do it seems. They row with Paul, a mentor strong,
They fight for right and oppose what's wrong, They'll be taught to get in and how to get out,
To handle a paddle and quell all doubt That they're ready to sail as sailors do,
be they many or be they few. They'll start 'round Neah Bay, near home,
But it won't be long before they roam. They'll meet other boys with purpose the same,
Enter races and games and flirt with fame. They'll thank the mothers and sisters who tried
To pay all the bills and add to their pride, Who cooked tasty things which they found could be sold,
Who sewed up a teepee to keep out the cold, Life's not easy, it never has been,
But don't give in-hang on and you'll win. But, winning is still not the final end,
You'll also find strength, new hope, and good friends.
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