The Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall was filled with the bright sights and sounds of a cultural celebration to Saturday afternoon.
The inaugural Rock Your Mocs event took place on a day more fit for Xtratufs than moccasins, but plenty of folks in regalia turned out for the event that celebrated Alaska Native culture with arts, crafts, song, dance, food and spoken word.
“We have various things on to remind us who we are,” said Marsha Hotch, Tlingit language educator for Goldbelt Heritage Foundation.
Goldbelt Heritage Foundation Executive Director Dionne Kadiente-Laiti explained the event was meant to further the foundations goals, including presenting youth leadership opportunities and language revitalization and preservation.
There were multiple opportunities for youths to sign up to become ambassadors for Goldbelt throughout the event, and youth mentors Justice Harris and Keisha Harris were present to make a recruitment pitch for teens between 14 and 18.
“We’re trying to get youth to engage in positive things,” Justice Harris said.
The event also coincided with Alaska Native Heritage Month and was part of a worldwide series of events called Rock Your Mocs that encourage indigenous pride.
Kadiente-Laiti said it wasn’t difficult to get Juneau’s first Rock your Mocs event off the ground, but she expects the event to expand.
“For us, particularly, it’s something that will continue to grow,” Kadiente-Laiti said.
Saturday’s event was already packed with activities.
Children of All Nations Dance Group performed dances on stage, Native languages professor Lance Twitchell with backing Goldbelt Heritage Foundation youth ambassadors led the crowd in a sing-along, door prizes were handed out and more.
Away from the stage were a number of stations, including a formline backdrop for photos and arts and crafts opportunities.
Youth ambassadors Shaylianna Kookesh and Natalie Bennett led a station that allowed people to make cards decorated with Tlingit designs.
“We thought it’d be something for kids or adults to do,” Bennett said.
Kookesh said she was a fan of the scrapbooking elements of the project.
At a nearby table master artist Abel Ryan led a formline station where he drew designs for younger children to color and instructed older attendees in formline.
“Either way, I’m having fun,” Ryan said.
One of the most popular activities was a tináa making station that received help from Herb (Kaaxtséen) Sheakley.
A gathering of folks pounded copper for the crafts outside the venue, and Sheakley helped string and bead them. Outside, Samuel P. (Kaax óo,téen) Sheakley lead the tináa making.
Others came with their handiwork already made.
Damen Christiansen brought a flute he made from artwork by Art Johnson.
He played “The Raven’s Call for Coffee” onstage.
Prior to his performance, Christiansen said the instrument played like a recorder, but had unique fingering that made the comparison difficult.
Twelve-year-old Taeyang Hassin brought some handmade mocassins to Rock Your Mocs, and he got to show them off.
He said they were the first shoes he’d ever made, and said he was pleased by their comfort.
“The inside is fluffy,” Hassin said.
Hassin also explained their outside design, which featured dogs with different-colored eyes that represented the same animal.
“I put my dog on the front,” Hassin said. “She’s a husky, so she has one blue eye and a brown eye.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.