Voices of the Ocean


In anticipation of their 2014 event, the organizers of the Voice of the Ocean: An Indigenous Watercraft Festival will hold a Summer Solstice Sunrise Ceremony this Friday, June 21 from 5:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. at Santa Barbara’s West Beach.

Hosted by the Chumash community and InMER Expeditions, the ceremony introduces the Chumash summer (called Shishawi) to bring in fresh “atonement of time” for the months ahead. “It also expresses the importance of our ocean and our water that is our source of life. We go back to the water to pay our respects to our family, community and Nation,” says event organizer and Chumash Elder Reggie Pagaling. “This celebration prepares us for next year’s larger and expanded celebration of the ‘Voices of the Ocean’ from around the world.”

Several tomols, or handmade plank canoes, which have been used by the Chumash for generations, are to be used in the ceremony and will be available for the public to examine. Tribal elders will be on hand to share stories from the rich history of these sea-going vessels, and join with civic leaders to discuss next year’s festival.

Voices of the Ocean, slated for June 20 – 21, 2014, aims to bring together native maritime peoples from western North America and the Pacific Rim for a shared experience of culture, history, presence, and the role of maritime people in the guardianship of land and sea.

“The basis of this Festival is to hear our youth and indigenous voices that focus on the conditions of our water and earth, and to build on the growing renewal of our connection to the water and nature,” says Pagaling. “We want participants to reestablish an emotional connection to the land and sea, a relationship which is so needed in this new present day.”

Marcus Lopez, a fellow event organizer and Chumash Elder adds, “I am happy that we are establishing a new connection with our canoe families. We are eager to host our Indigenous people of the ocean and water and our youth and community. We all need to look toward the future and beyond.”

Although the focus of the Festival is on traditional, indigenous maritime cultures, the event is intended to be an inclusive public gathering. “We want to connect all the participants to the current maritime environment and evoke a new level of stewardship over our natural surroundings,” adds Ed Cassano President of InMER, a partner with the Chumash in presenting the event. “The unprecedented scale and diversity of this inaugural festival will make history and we want the local community to be a part of it.”

For more information about the 2014 Voices of the Ocean Festival, contact:

Ed Cassano, InMER Founder & President 831-594-6637, ecassano@inmer.org
Marcus Lopez, Project Director & Chumash Elder, 805-969-1076
Reggie Pagaling, Project Consultant & Chumash Elder, 805-729-3345