Boatbuilders in their final push

Boatbuilders in their final push

It’s the final week before the Adāka Cultural Festival and the traditional watercraft tent is a very busy place! Today we checked in with all the builders to see their progress and get updates.

The dugout crew was noticeably more relaxed today, following the successful second steaming of the dugout canoe yesterday morning. After more than five weeks of work, their journey to completion is the longest. The dugout left the tent shaped like a log and it returned with the form of an elegant canoe. Apprentice Justin Smith spent the morning sanding it down, and by the end of the day they’d started applying the fiberglass undercoat.


The team has definitely turned a corner and relief is in the air. Master carver Wayne Price was even seen sprucing up his dugout, the Jibba.

The moose hide boat frame has been freed from the large 2x4 jig that the builders were using as a form. Now the push is on this week to finish preparing the hides and fit them to the frame. Doug Smarch spent much of today in the sunshine scraping the hides.

Since his arrival at the tent a week ago, Halin deRepentigny and his birchbark canoe crew have made good progress. Over the past two days, Halin used hot water to bend wood slats and fit them into the hull. Today Joe Migwans was working on hand tools that will help fix them in place.

Kiliii Yuyan returned to the tent today after a short trip back to Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska. He settled back in and is preparing for next steps to cover the frame with skins. We received some seal skins that Kiliii rinsed in the Yukon River, and he is working on securing caribou hides for the qayaq.

Brian Walker continues to work on his large ceremonial copper sculpture, and he has also brought some of his small copper boat sculptures to work on at the tent. As Brian has found, working in a public space can be very social! His tent often has a line of people outside and he’s become accustomed to interruptions. Working on smaller pieces will allow Brian more time to talk with visitors as the site becomes busier this week.

Maori master carver Lyonel Grant arrived at the traditional watercraft tent two days ago, and he’s set up and already his carving is taking shape. Lyonel has designed intricate Maori adornments that will be temporarily fitted to the bow and stern of the dugout canoe owned by Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

A dozen Maori paddlers arrive soon to take part in the Adāka Cultural Festival, and they will paddle this decorated canoe in the traditional boat celebration on July 6. As Tlingit carver Wayne Price said, it’s a Yukon-Tlingit-Maori fusion canoe!
Come by the tents this week to watch the boatbuilders in their final push to completion!