David A. Boxley, wearing a Ravenstail-trimmed robe, and his son David R. Boxley sing and drum in Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Saturday afternoon as Metlakatla’s Git Hoan dancers perform a canoe paddling dance featuring a large carved headdress created by Git Hoan’s senior Boxley. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

David A. Boxley, wearing a Ravenstail-trimmed robe, and his son David R. Boxley sing and drum in Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Saturday afternoon as Metlakatla’s Git Hoan dancers perform a canoe paddling dance featuring a large carved headdress created by Git Hoan’s senior Boxley. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Photos: Git Hoan brings stories to life in dance and art during Celebration

Metlakatla dancers among 36 Indigenous groups sharing their heritage during four-day event.

“All of the headdresses were made by my father out of his desire that our people know who they are and to be proud of who they are,” said David R. Boxley on Saturday afternoon as he introduced Metlakatla’s dancers. Standing beside him on stage was the elder David A. Boxley who is renowned for his work as a carver of the bold and colorful masks worn by Git Hoan dancers.

Known for their energetic dances and elaborate carved wooden masks, the group enthralled the full audience in Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall near the end of the four-day Celebration that occurred at multiple venues around Juneau, with 36 Indigenous groups sharing their heritage in similar fashion.

The younger Boxley told the story of each dance as he introduced it.

The introductory dance captured audience’s attention with a dancer wearing a large complex carved headdress leading others in a canoe paddling dance through the center aisle toward the stage where other members of the group accompanied them in song with hand-held drums and a wooden box drum.

“This is a barometer of how we are doing as a people,” said the elder Boxley about Celebration events.

“If we are strong now, imagine when the children are grown and speaking our language in the future,” he added before a final memorial dance honoring the late Elder Cindy James.

• Contact Laurie Craig at laurie.craig@juneauempire.com.

Illustrating a story of an eagle who fed a starving village as a returned kindness, a dancer opens a large carved eagle headdress to reveal the inner being during a performance by Git Hoan dancers Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Illustrating a story of an eagle who fed a starving village as a returned kindness, a dancer opens a large carved eagle headdress to reveal the inner being during a performance by Git Hoan dancers Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

A wolf headdress worn by a member of the Git Hoan dancers during their performance on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

A wolf headdress worn by a member of the Git Hoan dancers during their performance on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Four dancers manipulate their carved masks to open and shut the eyelids on the painted wooden masks carved by David A. Boxley of Git Hoan as dancers sing and drum on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Four dancers manipulate their carved masks to open and shut the eyelids on the painted wooden masks carved by David A. Boxley of Git Hoan as dancers sing and drum on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Two large and one child-sized wooden raven headdresses are danced across the stage as members of Git Hoan dancers perform at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Saturday. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

Two large and one child-sized wooden raven headdresses are danced across the stage as members of Git Hoan dancers perform at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Saturday. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)

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