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Benefit at Perseverence Theatre for deceased Juneau woman's expenses

Sky Dunlap's life celebrated while her death in Seattle remains an open police investigation

Posted: May 2, 2011 - 8:49pm  |  Updated: May 2, 2011 - 8:56pm
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Sakara Kachina Yepa Dunlap, known as Sky to family and friends, was found deceased at her apartment in Seattle. An investigation is on going.   Submitted photo
Submitted photo
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Sakara Kachina Yepa Dunlap, known as Sky to family and friends, was found deceased at her apartment in Seattle. An investigation is on going.

A tiny fraction of those whose lives have been touched by Sakara Kachina Yepa (Sky) Dunlap will join in her honor Wednesday night at Perseverance Theatre for a benefit to raise funds to help the family with investigation and funeral expenses.

Seattle police, meanwhile, confirmed an active investigation continues into the circumstances of Dunlap’s death, and a Juneau legislator has asked the governor’s office to follow up with Washington state officials if necessary.

While the reason for the gathering is sad, Wednesday’s event will be joyous, organizers say.

Some of the many performers that have been privy to Sky’s theatrical talents will perform “Free-Spirited Moccasins,” a tribute arranged by best friend Seneca Harper.

“Each person will be performing their own thing,” Harper said. “There is a lot of folk music, poetry, spoken word, contemporary dance, violin, and story telling. It is more of a tribute to her, things that she would enjoy.”

A memorial for Dunlap will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tlingit Haida Community Center at 3235 Hospital Drive.

Wednesday evening is a benefit to aid the family and the title describes how she wore her moccasins everywhere, in every adventure, on every hitchhike or bicycle trip.

“That is what people think of when they think about an image of her,” Harper said. “They think of her in those moccasins.”

Artists on stage will include Collette Costa, Teri Tibbett, Gene Tagaban, Brett Dillingham, Shona Strauser, Christy Na Mee Erikson, Nahaan, Lily Hudson, Becky Engstrom, Kim Andree, Tyee Dunlap, Kahdushan Dunlap, Austin Tagaban, Ricky Tagaban, and Harper.

“Emotionally, it has been nice to make myself busy with all the details,” Harper said. “But I was writing a little bit of the obituary the other day and it brought up sorrow. I am trying to be at peace with the fact that she is gone. It is nice to be able to plan a celebration of her life rather than spending all of the time being sorrowful the performers will be wearing bright colors and urged all attendees to do the same.

“Because Sky didn’t like the color black for clothing,” Harper said. “It will be a wonderful and bright celebration.”

Harper is also producing a benefit show to be performed in Seattle at the Can Can Theater on May 11. That show is called “Miss Thunder Laughter” and is a glittery burlesque show in tribute to her life. The lineup of performers includes many from the Seattle scene who either performed with Sky or knew of her talents.

“She had this booming laugh that disturbed the neighbors at first but it was contagious too,” Harper said.

Dunlap’s boyfriend Abdul Salom found Dunlap’s body on April 5 in her Seattle apartment. An initial Seattle Police Department report stated the cause of death as a suicide. Salom found Dunlap’s body hanging.

Calls to Seattle Police Chief John Diaz have not been returned since the incident occurred.

When the Empire asked to speak to Diaz on Monday about the Dunlap case, Diaz’ secretary said “He is busy being chief of police” and directed phone calls to the department’s Media Relations Unit.

The media office stated it was now an open police investigation and they cannot comment at this time, and any other information would have to come from the Seattle King County Medical Examiner’s office.

The medical examiner’s office said the case was on hold pending additional medical tests.

State Rep. Cathy Muñoz has contacted Gov. Sean Parnell’s office on behalf of the Dunlap family and requested the Parnell administration contact Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire regarding the investigation.

“The family was concerned that the investigation wasn’t moving forward,” Muñoz said. “Or that they weren’t getting any information. I put a call into the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro and was assured that a representative of the governor’s office would be communicating with the family, and if necessary communicate the urgency to executives in Washington to see what was happening.”

Parnell’s Special Assistant on Public Safety Katie TePas is leading the communications.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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