Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will kick off its biennial Celebration this week, marking the 30th year since the inception of the popular dance and culture festival. Celebration is a major event organized by Sealaska Heritage Institute every two years. First held in 1982, it has become the largest cultural event in the state, drawing thousands of people to the capital. It’s a time when Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people come together to celebrate their survival as a culture, said SHI President Rosita Worl, adding it’s also a community event open to the general public.
“We hope that non-Native people will attend our event. We want people to have the opportunity to come and learn and celebrate our culture,” Worl said.
Along with dance performances, it features associated events, including a Juried Art Show and Competition, Native Artist Market, Native Artist Gathering, seaweed and soapberry contests, Toddler Regalia Review, film screenings, workshops, lectures and parade — with the addition of eight canoes — through downtown Juneau.
Events will be held in numerous venues, including Centennial Hall, the Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC), the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall (formerly ANB Hall), Marine Park, Sealaska Plaza and Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater. Sealaska also will be holding the first annual Haa Aaní OysterFest at the SHI lot, the location of the future Walter Soboleff Center. One new thing this year is the Native Artist Market will move from the JACC to the Sealaska parking lot, said Worl, noting the institute in the past has had to turn away artists because of space constraints.
“We want to be able to accommodate as many Native artists as we can because developing Juneau as a Native art center is one of our long-term goals,” Worl said. “But the parking lot is also situated right downtown and more accessible to the tourists. The tourists are really important to us because we want them to not only learn about our art but we’re hopeful that they’re also going to be purchasing art from our artists.”
The 2012 theme is “Strengthen Yourself” — spelled Ayanaltseenáa in Tlingit, Án hl is daguyáa in Haida and Lip sha gotgyednshm in Tsimshian. The institute anticipates up to 7,000 people, including 55 dance groups and more than 2,000 dancers from Alaska, Canada and the lower 48. Celebration 2012 will be led by the Xudzidaa Kwáan Dancers of Angoon and include visits by dignitaries, such as a representative from the White House, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Gov. Sean Parnell.
Tickets will go on sale 11 a.m. Wednesday at Centennial Hall. Three-day passes are $30 for adults, and $15 for Elders and youth (ages 7-12). One-day tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for Elders and youth (ages 7-12). Children ages 6 and under are admitted at no charge.
The 2012 festival was sponsored by the following businesses, organizations and individuals: Copper ($10,000 and up): Sealaska Corporation, City and Borough of Juneau; Platinum ($5,000-$9,000): Sealaska Environmental Services, Managed Business Solutions, LLC; Gold ($2,500-$4,999): Boyer Towing, BP, Carolyn Kleefeld, Global Transportation Systems, Inc., KPMG, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Pyramid Communications, The Eyak Corporation, Wells Fargo; Silver ($1,000-$2,499): Alaska Airlines, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Anthony and Amanda Mallott, Behrends Mechanical Inc., Bullwinkles Pizza Parlor, Cairncross & Hempelmann, Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, ConocoPhillips, Doyon Limited, Elgee Rehfeld Mertz, Hiline Engineering & Fabrication, Inc., Landye Bennett & Blumstein LLP, Lee and Louise Kadinger, Mary and Chris McNeil, MEBS Global Reach, Merrick & Company, MRV Architects, Native American Bank, NA, Office Plus of Alaska, Perry, Johnson, Anderson, Miller & Moskowitz, LLP, Rod Worl and Dawn Dinwoodie, Rosita Worl, Royal Caribbean International/Celebrity Cruises, Security Alliance, LLC, State Farm Insurance Agents of Juneau, Van Ness Feldman; Bronze ($500-$999): Afognak Native Corporation, Alaska Litho, ALS Group USA, Byron and Antoinette Mallott, Chuck Smythe, Delta Western, Inc., Diversified, Driftwood Lodge, Eagle Capital Management, LLC, First National Bank, Huna Heritage Foundation, Janine Roberts, Jon and Claudine Duncan, McDowell Group, Inc., Phoenix Logging Company, Rico Worl, Samuel Landol, Trent Sanden; Cedar ($250-$499): Alaska Electric Light and Power Co., Alaska Permanent Capital Management, Alaskan & Proud, Black Rhino Marketing, Blaine Tech Services, Inc., Chatham Electric, Costco, Elizabeth Perry, Erisa Compliance Associates, LLC, Faulkner Banfield, P.C., J.L. Sherburne Landscape Designs, Jaeleen and Todd Araujo, Jason Fujioka, Jensen Yorba Lott, Inc., Jodi Mitchell, Joe Nelson, Kathy Dye, Linda Belarde, Michael Obert, Perkins Coie Charitable Foundation, Ric Kilmer, Ron and Sherri Wolfe, Russell Dick, Sarah Dybdahl, Simpson, Tillinghast, & Sorensen, Super Bear Supermarket, Tate and Debi London, Technology Management Company, Inc., Terra Verde, Inc.; Friends (up to $249): Alaska Laundry and Cleaners, Audrey Fields, Barbara Thurston, Carmaleeda Estrada, Consuelo Parham, Continuous Improvement Applications, David Stallings, Denali Advisors, LLC, Donna Drake , Dori Lynn, Emax Laboratories, Inc., Ethel Lund Medical Center Staff, Fred Meyer, Henry Bryson, Janice Sheufelt, Jeane Breinig, Joe and Belen Cook, John Gubatayao, John Harmening, Juneau Electric, Kathy Ruddy, Kelly Sheufelt, Martin Environmental, McDonalds of Juneau, Merle Andersen, Mike Janson, Morgan Howard Productions, Nicole Hallingstad, Norval and Barbara Cadiente-Nelson, Park Poplis, PilieroMazza, PLLC, Reiner & Reiner, P.A., Ricardo and Lisa Worl and family, Roberta Gulledge, Sid Edenshaw, Suzi Jones, Tlingit & Haida Indians of CBJ, Trucano Construction Co., Western Auto Marine.
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.