Family Canoe
Samish Family Canoe will be on display at the
Youth Activities lot at Coveland and Alexander Streets

Dana Lyons

Peter Ali

Lois Landgrebe

JP Falcon Grady

Rona Yellow Robe

Swil Kanim

Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers

Rosie James

Lou LaBombard


Penn Cove Water Festival - 2016

2016's Penn Cove Water Festival continues our renewed focus on the cultural history of the region, and once again brings back all time favorite performers, new performers, and the fun, family atmosphere that is unique to the festival.

The Penn Cove Water Festival Association is a small nonprofit organization consisting of community members from the Town of Coupeville, Port of Coupeville, South Whidbey, Orca Network, Sound Water Stewards (formerly Beachwatchers), Native Tribal representatives and Skagit Valley College.

Our community saw its first Water Festival back in 1930. While only eleven-man canoes participated in the first Water Festival, subsequent years brought larger canoes as well as over twenty-two tribes gathering each year to participate in races and share their heritage with the population of Penn Cove.

The PCWF Association hopes to continue bringing that spirit back to life by educating us on our Native community with not only tribal canoe races but also the Native arts and crafts, demonstrations, storytelling, dance performances, artist demonstrations, authentic Native foods, children's activities, and exhibits and displays.

2016 is the 25th year of the new Penn Cove Water Festival, bringing the historic Water Festival to new life as our Native community and neighbors participate in their annual tribal canoe races, and townspeople gather to celebrate our history and the waters that surround us.


Help us by volunteering the day of the festival. Volunteers are needed to assist the performers, artists, racers, and children's crafts. Email members of the committee for more information. See you there!


2016 Performances


Friday, May 13, 8:00 PM
Storytelling around the bonfire at Pacific Rim Institute with Lou LaBombard, Anthropologist and Lecturer

Saturday, May 14th at 10 AM – Dana Lyons, a Pre-Festival performance at the Coupeville Library

Saturday, May 14th on our MAIN STAGE and Museum’s Lower Level:


PCWF President Vicky Reyes, Mayor Molly Hughes, & Samish Cultural Development Coordinator Rosie James

11:15-11:45 – Lou LaBombard, Storytelling…………Museum
11:30-12:15pm – Peter Ali, Flute…………Main Stage
12:15-1pm – Lois Landgrebe…………Main Stage
1:00–1:45 – JP Falcon Grady, Music & Songs…………Main Stage
1:45-2:30pm – Rona Yellowrobe, Storytelling & Music…………Main Stage
2:30-3:30pm – Swil Kanim…………Main Stage
3:30-4pm – Lou LaBombard, Storytelling…………Museum
4:00 pm – Tshimshian Haayuuk Dancers…………Main Stage
Traditional and ceremonial dances involving you, the audience!

At the BOAT LAUNCH on 9th Street:

PCWF President Vicky Reyes, Mayor Molly Hughes & Rosie James
12:15 – Race Captains Meeting
Canoe Races take place during the rest of the afternoon (see Canoe Races page)

In-between performances, we'll hear updates of the Canoe Races that can be viewed from the Wharf, along Front Street and/or at the Boat Launch in Capt. Coupe Park.



Performer Descriptions/Bios:

Dana Lyons
Internationally known, Bellingham based ‘environmental troubadour’, Dana Lyons, carries on the legacy of artist/activists such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Best known for his hit comedy song “Cows With Guns” Dana’s concerts are a mix of comedy and ballads and are great for the whole family. Videos and songs at

The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers
Members of the Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers are from the Tsimshian Tribe along the northern coast of British Columbia, Canada and Southeast Alaska. The group is based in Seattle. The purpose of the group is to:
* Serve as an outlet for Tsimshian Culture
* Bring awareness of the Tsimshian culture to the general public and other tribes
* Perform at Indian and non-Indian events

The nucleus of the group formed out of a committee that, in 1996, hosted the first modern potlatch in Seattle. The one day potlatch hosted, gifted, and fed more than 1,500 people. The group's intent was to perform at this single event, but decided to stay intact. Since 1996, the group has performed in the Seattle area, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and at other events outside the Pacific Northwest such as the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis and in Orlando at Disney World.

Each dance reflects a Tsimshiam interpretation of common themes such as fishing, hunting, first contact with non-Indians, family history and our relationship with the spirit world. Unique highlights of the group are:
* Theatrical and choreographed dances
* The use of wood box drums unique to the Tsimshian tribe
* Handmade dance regalia consisting of button robes, masks, and headpieces.

Swil Kanim
Swil Kanim is a world class virtuoso violinist who advocates self-expression to create stronger community. He intertwines his music with storytelling, poetry, and audience interaction. His original compositions are mesmerizing and inspiring to all ages alike, so bring the whole family when he is performing.

Swil Kanim is a popular key-note speaker and a notable actor. He starred as "Mouse" in Sherman Alexies highly acclaimed movie The Business of FancyDancing, appeared in 24 episodes of CBS's Northern Exposure and has been featured on KIRO TV NEWS, National Public Radio's Earth on the Air, Northwest Public Radio, NW Cable News Network and the Canadian Chum Networks New Canoe.

He was selected to perform as part of the Bellinghams Sister City Program in Teteyama, Japan where he continued on to Seoul, Korea for a memorial/reunion concert for orphans of the Korean Conflict. The Indigo Girls asked Swil Kanim to be their opening act in Seattle to kick off the Honor the Earth Concert tour of North America.

Swil Kanim also performed for five years with the Growth and Prevention Theater Company (GAP Theater), based out of Seattle. The GAP Theater Company presented professional plays about racism and varying forms of bigotry for institutions across the Great Northwest.

At the American Indian Film Awards in San Francisco, Swil Kanim performed on stage, he was featured on the soundtrack of a documentary about Indian Boarding Schools, which won the Best Documentary award.

Swil Kanim has received the Certificate of Virtuosity from the Whatcom Chapter of the Washington State Music Teachers Association, the Bellingham Municipal Arts Award for Promoting Self-Expression in Community, and Woodring College of Education Professional Excellence Award.

Peter Ali
The lifting notes of the Native American flute reminds us of a time when this music was played for courtship, healing, and during rituals. Peter Ali brings a unique collection of his Native flutes and contemporary songs that only come from the heart. Self taught and playing for nine years Peter has performed all over the Puget Sound in the past four years, and has played for the Dalai Lama last May. Peter is descended from his Mother who is of Yaqui heritage from Bacadehuachi Sonora Mexico and a Father who's people are the Berber tribes of Morocco, North Africa. Peter continues the flute tradition as his Grandfather was also a flutist.

Lois Landgrebe
Tulalip tribal member Lois Landgrebe has always been a storyteller. What started out as an entertaining way to comfort her younger sister during childhood has evolved into a beautiful craft she uses to connect people to her tribal culture. Bilingual in English and her tribe’s traditional language, Lushootseed, she gracefully uses the two languages interchangeably to help the listener understand the historical importance of her stories, while also being entertained.

J.P. Falcon Grady
A self-taught acoustic guitarist, singer, songwriter and a proud member of the Blackfeet Nation. Performs originals and covers all over the Northwest, Montana and Hawaii as both a solo artist and with his band "J.P. Falcon Band". J.P. Falcon plays many music genres with expert skill. The band can ROCK and get the dance floor hoppin' as well as sing ballads and love songs that have brought fans to tears. The J.P. Falcon Band is a sure crowd pleaser and his stunningly smooth voice and killer pipes are sure to impress. .

Rona Yellow Robe
Native American Music Awards' 2014 and 2015 Native American Flutist of the Year, was born and raised in Havre, Montana, and is an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana. She is known for her powerful vocal ability, Native American flute style, and heart-filled presence. She picked up her first flute in 2002 and has been on a musical and spiritual journey ever since. It is by playing the Native American flute, which she refers to as “her other voice,” that she has become comfortable sharing with all audiences many aspects of her life that are personal and meaningful to her.

Rona Yellow Robe and Bruce Witham have been creating music together since May, 2008. They have recorded four albums, “Voice of the Trees” (2009), “The Gathering” (2012),a Christmas album entitled “Lighting Our Way” (2013), and most recently "Shoot For The Moon" (2016). In 2010, Rona and Bruce received Native American Music Awards nomination as Best Songwriters of the Year for their song, “Voice of the Trees," and also received Album of the Year nomination for their album, "The Gathering." They have performed concerts on stages nationwide, and now perform internationally. They have always said, "We will perform for 5 or 500." They have done both. It's all about blessing people's lives with the music.

Louis LaBombard
Louis LaBombard is a tenured professor of Anthropology at Skagit Valley College, Whidbey Campus where he has taught for 18 years. He teaches classes in Anthropology, Native American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Global Issues and Sociology, and is the Chair of the Social Science Dept.

Professor LaBombard holds several degrees in Anthropology and Sociology. Lou has lectured for many groups as a professional, international teller of Native American oral traditions, and has been a head singer and traditional dancer and MC, "whip man" and judge at Pow Wows around the country. Prior to coming to S.V.C. he was the chair of the Social Sciences Dept. of Navajo College, Tsaille, Arizona. His family has been here for 22 years.

Lou is a Seneca-Mohawk (Haudenosaunne) of the Iroquois confederacy, Wolf and Heron clans. He is a Viet Nam veteran and served as an airborne paramedic. He is married with a grown son living in Bothel who works for a telecommunication company. Lou lives with his wife on a small farm on Whidbey Island. Fishing and hunting are favored pasttimes.

Lou has also taught Field Schools in Archaeology on the Whibey Island in the summer, Students have explored the various sites on the Island(s) and excavated and analyzed materials from the Mitchell site at Polnell Point.

Professor LaBombard has lectured around the United States on subjects ranging from incorporation of Native American materials into the general teaching curriculum and the use of Native American story telling and oral traditions to various subjects relating to the archaeology and history of the West, Southwest and the Northwest Pacific Coast. Currently he is finishing a study of the techniques for retention of traditional cultures of select Native American groups compared with the Maori of New Zealand.

Rosie James
Always holding onto the knowledge was a task entrusted to me by my Grandfather.
- Rosie James

Rosie James is an elder and Cultural Development Coordinator for the Samish Indian Nation. She was born and raised in Anacortes and attended school s in the area. She takes her name from her paternal great grandfather, Louis Cayou. Her maternal great grandfather, John Stone, was born at Ship Harbor across from Guemes Island. Her passion is sharing Oral History which was handed down to her and her brothers during meal times. Rosie was mentored by her grandmother. She usually accompanied the tribal elders to gather shellfish, salmon, bottom fish, and plants. She was taught to gather traditional foods, where to find it, how to collect it, how to prepare it and most importantly when (what seasons) to gather it. Her great grandfather was the first Anglo settler on Orcas Island hailing from France. Since 2010 Rosie has made her home on Guemes Island, the birthplace of her grandfather. Rosie's partner, Bill Bailey, is a well-known Northwest Native American carver.

Rosie enjoys teaching concepts by telling stories and presenting Oral History. She intrigues audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest as she shares her grandmother's stories and Tribal culture. She is a frequent speaker in schools and at cultural events.

Photos courtesy of the Island County Historical Society