Traditional Lands of A’akw and Taku Kwáan to host global launch of Moananuiākea Voyage
Friday, March 24, 2023

The voyage aims to circumnavigate the Pacific over the course of four years, bringing attention to the role of Pacific peoples in stewarding our oceans and inspiring future navigators.

Sealaska is proud to welcome the Moananuiākea Voyage to the traditional lands of the A’akw and Taku Kwaan people this summer. The Moananuiākea Voyage is a four-year journey by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) to circumnavigate the Pacific. The voyage’s leaders hope to inspire future navigators while bringing awareness to our changing climate and the impact climate change is having on our planet’s oceans.  

An Alaska planning team is supporting PVS to facilitate the Alaska leg of the journey, working closely with community leaders across Southeast to host and welcome our guests from across the Pacific. The Alaska team includes representatives from First Alaskans Institute, Tlingit & Haida and Sealaska. Leadership from the organizations joined PVS for the announcement of the voyage on March 21.

Sealaska offered a warm welcome to the Moananuiākea Voyage in remarks from President and CEO Anthony Mallott and Director ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake, who is involved in the journey’s planning through her role as Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center for the First Alaskans Institute. In his opening words, Mallott shared a statement from Yakutat’s welcome invitation to the voyagers: 

“A new day has come upon us, a new day where we can reflect on our ancestral wisdom and Indigenous relationships and move forward in love, respect and reciprocity. Our communities of Pacific Ocean canoe people – Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian – are holding our hands out in welcome.”

PVS has built three ocean voyaging canoes and conducted five major open ocean voyages thus far. Hawaiʻiloa, one of the society’s three double-hulled ocean voyaging canoes, was built with spruce logs from USFS and Sealaska lands donated in a gesture of respect and reciprocity to our relatives across the sea. The Moananuiākea Voyage will journey to communities around Southeast in a pre-voyage “Heritage Sail” to pay homage to the leaders and places that helped build the strong, longstanding relationship between Hawai’i and Alaska.  

‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak shared words from the Haida Constitution as she welcomed Nainoa Thompson, CEO of PVS. 

“Our culture is born of respect and intimacy with the land and sea and the air around us,” said Wáahlaal Gíidaak. “Like the forest, the roots of our people are intertwined such that the greatest troubles cannot overcome us. The living generation accepts the responsibility to ensure that our heritage is passed on to the following generations. On these islands our ancestors lived and died and here too, we will make our homes until called away to join them in the great beyond. We are honored to uphold this responsibility with our brothers and sisters throughout Alaska, the Pacific and the world.” 

The voyagers are scheduled to arrive in Juneau on June 10 and will be welcomed at Auke Bay, the traditional lands of the A’akw Kwáan. The canoe and crew will remain in Juneau for a week of community and educational engagements before departing Juneau after a celebratory ceremony launching the symbolic start of their circumnavigation of the Pacific. 

“We cannot wait to welcome our Pacific family to Alaska and together launch this journey to remind the world of the balance Indigenous peoples have always held in the caretaking of our homelands and waters,” said Wáahlaal Gíidaak. “This time will be a moment of celebration and commitment that our responsibility will continue on for the next 10,000 years.” 

Moananuiākea Voyage Juneau Events 

  • June 10, 2023 | Welcome Ceremony 
  • June 15, 2023 | Global Launch  

Read more about the Moananuiākea voyage here. Questions for the Alaska planning team can be sent to anpc@firstalaskans.org. 

 


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