They also sang one of the sole surviving Klallam songs, antique recordings of which date from the 1920s. All modern Elwha ceremonies end with its singing.
But this is not a thumping, enthusiastic paddling anthem. The haunting “Klallam Love Song” is about absence, longing and the possibility of return. Young women sang it when their husbands were away. The words are very simple, repeated over and over. “Sweetheart, sweetheart,” the women cried. “You are so very far away; my heart aches for you.”
Abigail Tucker is Smithsonian’s staff writer.