“You Don’t Have to Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” pushes personal, artistic boundaries

“You Don’t Have to Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” pushes personal, artistic boundaries

All-indigenous show mixes arts, tones and performance styles

“You Don’t Have to Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” pushed personal boundaries and blurred artistic ones.

Comedy, dance, drag and poetry mingled on the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall stage Monday.

The disparate artforms were bound by a common factor: All performers were of indigenous descent.

“I think it’s really exciting that it’s an all-Native cast,” said Ricky Tagaban, a Juneau drag queen and Chilkat weaver.

The night of entertainment was sponsored by Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and included local and Seattle-based artists.

“Some of this may push personal boundaries, even our traditional boundaries, but it’s important to have a sense of place where we can express ourselves,” said Tlingit and Haida President Richard Peterson on stage after Howie Echo-Hawk’s incendiary stand-up set. “If it made you feel uncomfortable, think about it.”

Performances and artists in “You Don’t Have to Go Home…” were tough to categorize, in part because the performers don’t limit their work to any one medium and frequently struck different tones and incorporated multiple art forms in one act.

Tagaban’s first performance included a faithful lip sync of “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” A record scratch marked a segue into a more uptempo track that provided the backing for both a catwalk strut into the audience and the reveal of a U.S. flag bearing the message, “Standing Rock.”

Fabian Romero read poetry but also presented “Three Routes,” a short film, which Romero called a digital poem.

“It’s going to be the first time I see people actually watch my film,” Romero said before the show. “It’s going to be very, very exciting to me.”

Halihenna Stepetin, a Unangax dancer from Akutan and now of Seattle, said she doesn’t like the binary implied by labeling dance as traditional or contemporary, but for simplicity she used the words to describe her performances.

“Tonight, I’m doing a mix of traditional and contemporary, so I’m being all of me,” Stepetin said.

That included “Slagux Chiganax Alakax,” which means the wind is not the water.

The performance was inspired by World War II internment, and included slides containing related photos and information.

The slides showed as music blared and red lights swept the room. Stepetin, who removed traditional regalia backstage, continued to dance while smearing paint on her face and body.

Echo-Hawk, whose art is at least stand-up comedy adjacent, prefers not to call what he does comedy.

“I hesitate to call it that,” Echo-Hawk said. “I call it punishment comedy. Sometimes my stuff is not funny.”

Echo-Hawk credited his background growing up near interior Alaska with forging his outlook and the sometimes bleak tone of his work.

“All I know is my experience as a Native guy,” Echo-Hawk said. “I owe my humor to the people I grew up around.”

Pointed jabs at Caucasians, dark observations and references to genocide peppered his set.

The dark humor landed, and Echo-Hawk made it clear that if white audience members did feel alienated, that was OK with him. His intended audience was the Alaska Natives gathered in the room.

Woosh.ji.een Dance Group, who performed to start the event, struck a more unifying tone and added to the night’s varied approach.

“We’re not made up of just one clan, just one tribe,” said group leader Lyle James.

James then pulled the entirety of the audience together by turning the opening “Loon Song” into an interactive experience.

He had all men in the audience form a circle around the women and children and offer to give them their strength.

Then, James spoke emotionally about the importance of protecting all members of a community. He referenced the recent killing of a 10-year-old in Kotzebue, and said no parents should have a child taken away.

He tasked the crowd with being supportive and vigilant in their community.

“Being in a state that has the highest rate of rape, of abuse, we should be standing up for each other,” James said.



Howie Echo-Hawk performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Howie Echo-Hawk performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Fabian Romero performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Fabian Romero performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Haliehana Stepetin performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Haliehana Stepetin performs at “You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here” at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, stands in the well of the House Chambers with other Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to hear Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., deliver remarks shortly after becoming the new minority leader on Jan. 6. The speech came after a nearly weeklong stalemate by Republicans in electing a speaker after they won a narrow majority in November’s election. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video feed)
Peltola learning the House party is over

Distractions and inaction replace honeymoon headlines as Alaska’s new rep joins minority.

Most Read