‘Canoe more than just for show at FestPac 2020’

Posted on Feb 04 2020

Grand master navigator Antonio “Tony” Urmeyang Piailug hacks away at the dokduk—breadfruit tree— in order to create a smooth keel and to also carve out a latte stone on the keel for the traditional canoe that is being built at the canoe house in Susupe. (JUSTINE NAUTA)

The traditional canoe that is being built at the canoe house in Susupe is not just intended for show at the Festival of Pacific Arts in Hawaii in June 2020, but is actually to educate people about traditional seafaring.

According to John Castro, who is project coordinator of the seafaring tradition program of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, he wants to emphasize that the building of the traditional canoe is meant to teach the CNMI community about, one, the importance of the traditional canoe; two, to show the world how traditional navigators learned how to navigate using just stars; and three, to teach the youth about traditional seafaring which is the practice of travelling by sea.

Two more individuals have recently volunteered to help Castro and grand master navigator Antonio “Tony” Urmeyang Piailug in building the traditional canoe in Susupe.

Castro stated that he’s grateful for the help of the two volunteers and he hopes to be able to attract more skilled traditional canoe builders to help with the canoe making.

Two weeks ago, the canoe only had the base. Saipan Tribune recently learned that the construction of the canoe’s outrigger, which is meant to balance the canoe, is now getting built. When finished, the canoe would be approximately 34 feet long.

The canoe is being made out of dokduk—breadfruit tree—that was harvested from Rota and the sail will be made out of a nylon canvas fabric.

The canoe has been in the works since 2017 and should have been almost finished but, due to multiple storms, parts that were needed weren’t available after Super Typhoon Yutu hit in October 2018.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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