SEATTLE - Twenty years after he led a flotilla of canoes in the Paddle to Seattle, retired Coast Guard Cmdr. Emmett Oliver sat beneath a striped umbrella at the edge of the beach as about two dozen canoes, with their crews, windblown and sun burnt, glided past him, singing in the summer sun.
"Grandpa! They're singing a Quinault song," said his granddaughter, Christina Oliver, 29.
Oliver, 95, first rallied Native-American tribes to build canoes and paddle them from distant reservations to the beach at Golden Gardens Park as part of the Washington state centennial celebration in 1989. Before then, the canoe culture was dying out.
Oliver revitalized it for the coastal Salish people, said Walter Pacheco, one of the organizers of Sunday's 20-year anniversary.
More canoes were arriving at the park on Seattle's Shilshole Bay throughout Sunday, with as many as 100 expected this week on the Kitsap Peninsula for the Paddle to Suquamish.
Although Oliver, a Quinault, would have preferred being in a canoe, he grinned broadly as they sailed in, paddles raised in respect.