JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Army News Service, July 31, 2012) -- Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord helped members of the Quileute tribe move approximately 100 canoes out of the water at the completion of the tribe's two-week journey, July 29.

The tribe traveled by canoe from their home village of La Push to Olympia during the annual Paddle to Squaxin 2012. The annual event provides an opportunity for various Native American tribes from Washington and areas farther away to journey in a traditional way and come together in friendship.

"It is what our forefathers did; we're just doing it (on a) different day, different year," said Howeeshata, the hereditary chief of the Quileute tribe.

Howeeshata said the long journey was not tiring; The travelers sang songs to motivate themselves. Still, he was still grateful to bring his canoe to the ramp where Soldiers from the 295th Quartermaster Company were pulling watercraft onto trailers.

The exposure to new cultures gave 2nd Lt. Tim Vanderpoel a chance to know more about his Soldiers.

"We have a few Native American Soldiers, so it was kind of interesting to see their tribes out here too, kind of see where they come from," Vanderpoel said.

Capt. Michael Watkins, 295th commander, said the event was a way to help out people who have supported them.

"This is a once in a life time opportunity," Watkins said. "I've never been part of an event like this. This is what it's about. It's learning more about others and contributing to this great country and this great nation."