The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, June 20, 2019, Page 19, Image 18

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    THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 2019 // 19
Close to Home: Exploring coastal, cultural parallels in Sitka, Alaska
Other than the Klok,
Klok, Klok of the wily
ravens, Sitka, Alaska, res-
onates with the heartbeat
of our own River City,
that lovely outpost we call
In the early morning, the
sharp protests of the black
raptors blanket this histori-
cal city in the opposite way
that snow fl urries cover the
spruce forests that inhabit
the Alaskan archipelago.
A fi ne mist settles on the
quiet streets of Old Town
and then ebbs as regularly as
ocean tides.
Today, the sun breaks
through and tall mountain-
ous peaks with thick ever-
green timber illuminate the
viridian landscape. And like
Astoria and its river-front
environs or Ilwaco with
salmon fl eet fi shing, salmon
is king.
Indeed, the fi nned ones
are nearly as thick as ever-
green trees in the forests that
surround Baranof Island.
Before my chef job
began, I fi shed a day with
Herb Tennell aboard the
Micah, one of several com-
fortable 32 foot sea boats
owned and operated by Out-
bound Alaska Charters.
I fi shed alongside a Vir-
ginia couple. On a wooden
dock just off Katlian Street,
we unloaded a hoard of
rockfi sh, three dazzling Chi-
nook salmon, three halibut
(we had to release two 42-
and 44-inch beauties), and,
fi nally, a nearly six foot dag-
ger-mouthed ling cod that
could make an infant wail.
Above, a huge mature
eagle circled in glorious,
graceful loops, its long,
broad wings and piercing
cry cutting through the sky
like a Damascus blade.
Though a thousand miles
away, this ocean is our same
Pacifi c.
It doesn’t suffer as fre-
quently the rough weather
challenges like those of the
Columbia River Bar, that
seven-mile wide torrent of
tide clashing like two knock-
down prize fi ghters when
big water meets big water,
which seems constant.
Sitka, or the Native der-
ivation Sheet’ka (or a later
incarnation as the Rus-
sian enclave known as New
Archangel), is the 900-year
home of the proud Tlingit.
Like the high, piercing
cry of the eagle, the spirit of
these Native Alaskans sug-
gests an ancient and spiri-
tual presence over the island
the Russians named Baranof
Nearly four decades ago,
Ivan Doig wrote a brilliant
novel titled “The Sea Run-
ners.” The story begins
in Sitka, then under Rus-
sian rule, but ended in Wil-
lapa Bay near the time of
the fi rst pioneers, that being
Espy and Clarke after their
life-saving encounter with
Chinook chief Nahcati in
Doig brought us an
adventure of four indentured
servants who escaped their
masters in a stolen Haifa
canoe and then pressed
against unrelenting odds
down the Northwest Coast
to Willapa Bay.
I hope to stay in Sitka
for several months and
explore links between these
two communities and all
the gifts, historical legends,
and the sublime landscapes
that make both cities unique
Along the way, we will
ride in our spirit canoes,
remembering distant ances-
tors, First Nation Peoples,
pioneers, fi shermen and,
lastly, a legacy that makes
us who we are as Northwest
individuals, and as an amal-
gamation of human forces
paddling in the same boat.
As the Siouan people say,
“Meta cuye oyasin.” We are
one family.
David Campiche
Three limits of Chinook, halibut and Yellow Eye.
David Campiche
Sitka or Sheet’ka Harbor.
David Campiche
A totem in Sitka National Heritage Park.
Art Cards
David Campiche
Sitka Bay at Indian River.
June 22 nd and 23 rd , 2019 • 10am - 6pm
Lake will be closed to the public.
1133 Commercial Street
Astoria, OR 97103
Presented by: Columbia Outboard Racing Association
Sanctioned by: American Power Boat Association
Questions?: Contact