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Members of the Quinault Nation along the Washington coast said Tuesday there is a chance First Lady Michelle Obama will attend this summer s Tribal Journey. The annual event draws thousands of Native Americans from the Northwest.

We ve had several conversations (with her office), said event coordinator Guy Capoeman. They ve said they re putting it on her calendar.

The White House had no official comment.

Whether or not Mrs. Obama is in Taholah, preparations are under way for the arrival of at least 10,000 people when the Paddle to Quinault begins August 1. The Quinaults are building their own canoes for the traditional ceremony, while also spending millions of dollars clearing space for a campsite.

I like to say it s a pilgrimage back to those ancient ways, Capoeman said. It gives us that one chance to really go back and experience the highways of our ancestors.

Tribal Journeys have deep significance for the Native American population, where the gatherings are also called potlatches.

For years, the U.S. banned them. In 1989, they were resurrected in the Northwest and have grown ever since.

This kind of work and tradition in the U.S. is important to all of us, commented Capoeman.

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