Pride in Her People

Charlotte Basch enjoys the view from Neawanna Point, not far from her Seaside, Ore., home.

Pacific sophomore Charlotte Basch started re-writing her people's history when she was 12. Now, she is a leader in the Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe and is studying ways to help bring her heritage back to life.

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Along the way, they camped and shared songs, dances and stories with other local tribes, including the Grand Ronde, Quinault and Chinook.

They started the journey at Celio Village on the banks of the Columbia River in Central Oregon, with 12 to 18 people at any one time in the canoe. They paddled down the Columbia, using a trailer to go around the dams, and continued on the water to Vancouver, Wash. From there, Charlotte and her canoe family towed the canoe to the Makah Indian Reservation on Neah Bay at the very northwestern tip of Washington state, then paddled on the waters of Puget Sound eastward to the Swinomish Tribe’s home. 

At the end of the journey, said Charlotte’s father, Richard, she stood up before some 10,000 people, introduced her tribe’s canoe family, Ne-awahanna Yahanetty (Spirit of the River), and talked about the issues in maintaining Native American culture.

So many people, he said proudly, told him that his daughter “has so much courage.”