Nick Hanson of the NBC show “American Ninja Warrior” kicks off the blanket toss at the 2020 Traditional Games in Juneau. (Lyndsey Brollini / Sealaska Heritage Institute)

Nick Hanson of the NBC show “American Ninja Warrior” kicks off the blanket toss at the 2020 Traditional Games in Juneau. (Lyndsey Brollini / Sealaska Heritage Institute)

Neighbors: Celebration begins Wednesday with mix of traditional and new events

Nearly 1,600 dancers from 36 dance groups scheduled to participate in four-day gathering.

Sealaska Heritage Institute will kick off its biennial four-day Celebration next Wednesday, marking 42 years since the inception of the popular dance-and-culture festival.

First held in 1982, it has become the one of the largest events in the state, drawing thousands of people and millions of dollars to the capital city. It’s a time when Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people come together to celebrate their cultural survival and to share their cultures with the public, said SHI President Ḵaaháni Rosita Worl, Ph.D.

“Our cultures are vibrant. We as a people are strong. This is a time to celebrate each other and revel in the fact that our cultures have survived and thrived,” Worl said, noting that the general public is welcome to attend.

Nearly 1,600 dancers from 36 dance groups are scheduled to participate this year.

Along with dance performances, Celebration features associated events, including a Juried Art Show and Competition, a Juried Youth Art Exhibit, a Native Art Market, Native food contests, a Toddler Regalia Review, a parade through downtown Juneau and the Everyday Indigenous Fashion Show sponsored by Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, Goldbelt, Inc. and SHI.

The event will also include some new events, including a Juried Film Festival, the premiere of Tlingit MacBeth, an Elder photo booth, a blanket toss and a cultural orientation that will include a viewing of two Chilkat robes recently acquired by SHI.

Events will be held in numerous venues, including Centennial Hall, Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus and plaza, Gold Town Theater and the State Library, Archives and Museum, known as SLAM.

The SHI Board of Trustees named Dakhká Khwáan Dancers (People of the Inland) as the lead dance group, which is responsible for leading the Grand Entrance and Grand Exit songs, during which every participating dance group dances across the stage to mark the beginning and end of Celebration. This requires the lead group to drum and sing for up to three hours straight during each procession.

Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, a Tlingit group based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, will lead all dancers for the first time since the group initially performed at Celebration in 2008.

The Celebration 2024 art was designed by Tlingit artist G̱at X̱wéech (Nick Alan Foote), who won with his piece “Sacred Embrace,” which was inspired by the 2024 theme, “Together We Live in Balance.”

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Saturday, June 1

Ticket pre-sale begin, SHI Store

Wednesday, June 5

12 noon: Centennial Hall Opens for Ticket Sales

3:30 pm: Juried Art Show Award Ceremony, WSB Clan House

5 pm: Grand Entrance, Centennial Hall

Thursday, June 6

10 am: Native Artist Market Opens, SHI Arts Campus

11 am: Dancing Begins, Centennial Hall & Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall

12–1 pm: Cultural Orientation & Chilkat Blanket Viewing, WSB Clan House

4-5 pm: Toddler Regalia Review, Centennial Hall

5-6 pm: Storytelling, WSB Clan House

5-7:30 pm: Tlingit Macbeth Film

Friday, June 7

10 am: Native Artist Market Opens, SHI Arts Campus

10 am: Dancing Begins, Centennial Hall & Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall

12-1 pm: Storytelling

12:15-1 pm: Food Contest

4-5 pm: Native Fashion Show, Centennial Hall (Sponsored by Goldbelt Inc)

5-6 pm: Storytelling, WSB Clan House

6-7 pm: Juried Film Festival, Goldtown Theater

Saturday, June 8

9 am: Panoramic Photo, SHI Arts Campus

10 am: Native Artist Market Opens, SHI Arts Campus

10 am: Parade, beginning at Ferry Way

12 noon: Dancing Begins, Centennial Hall & Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall

5 pm: Grand Exit, Centennial Hall

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