On April 14, 2016, the Hokule’a sailed into Charleston. The Hokule’a is from Hawaii, and the crew members have been sailing around the world, in a canoe similar to the ones sailed by their Polynesian ancestors, to bring awareness and help grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. As they sailed into Charleston, the crew of the Holule’a was greeted by the Native American community from across South Carolina, and it was my honor to represent PAIA in the Welcoming Ceremony.

As we stood on the dock, facing the crew and officially welcoming them to our land, you could feel in the air how special this moment was, the indigenous people of South Carolina officially welcoming the indigenous people of a far-away land. I lack adequate words to describe the time we spent with the Hokule’a crew. We could palpably feel the centuries of indigenous traditions in welcoming and feeding our new friends and exchanging gifts. With the knowledge of my own ancient Cherokee heritage filling my heart, I presented our gift from the Chief Norris and the PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of SC, a beautiful cedar box with our tribal logo on it and bundles of tobacco for the crew members of the boat, to Captain Bruce, captain of the crew on this leg of their journey.

After eating, exchanging gifts, and socializing, we ended our time together with a water ceremony where we mixed waters from the Hawaiian Islands with the water of Charleston Harbor. In this way, we strengthened the bond between us and our friends from across the world. We wish them Godspeed on the remainder of their journey up the East Coast and across the Atlantic.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hokule’a, go their website at
www.hokulea.com and/or follow the Hokule’a Crew on Facebook.

Stacey Mother Wolf Sparks-Lazurek