Git Hoan Dancers, Native art and cultures,to be showcased at Santa Fe Indian Market

The Git Hoan dance group is much beloved for their dancing and use of masks traditionally used for story telling.

Sealaska Heritage Institute for the second year will showcase Alaska Native art and cultures at the world famous Santa Fe Indian Market.


In addition to dance performances, SHI will feature Native art demonstrations, art sales and cultural performances to spotlight the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. The institute hopes to eventually broaden its Native art markets and the trip is an opportunity for staff to study a very successful one and to acquaint art buyers there with Northwest Coast art, Worl said.

“For us to be able to study it is one value,” Worl said. “But the other value is teaching people about Northwest Coast art and culture, and then hopefully enticing some of those individuals who love Indian art to come to Alaska.”

The Santa Fe Indian Market over the past 90 years has been instrumental in creating worldwide demand for Southwest Indian art. The two-day market, scheduled Aug. 18-19, is operated by the nonprofit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), which invited SHI to participate. The market draws nearly 100,000 patrons.

This year, the program will include the Git Hoan Dancers, a wildly popular Tsimshian dance group that packs the hall at Celebration, SHI’s biennial dance-and-culture festival in Juneau, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“I know they’re going to love Git Hoan. When they dance for us at Celebration the hall is filled to maximum capacity,” Worl said. “We have a lot of unhappy people who can’t get inside the door.”

The Git Hoan Dancers were formed in 1996 by Tsimshian artist David Boxley, who is a master carver. The group incorporates large, exquisitely-carved masks and other regalia into their performances to honor the ancient Tsimshian tradition of using masks to tell stories.

“What’s so special about Git Hoan is they enact many of the oral traditions of the Tsimshian society,” Worl said.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

For more information, contact Rosita Worl at 463-4844 .


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