Celebration's Grand Exit complete as of Saturday night

    Dancers on the stage Saturday. (Photos by Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Celebration's Grand Exit occurred Saturday, June 11th, 5 pm-7:30 pm at Centennial Hall.

    For the Grand Exit, all dance groups performed and sang the "Wrangell Coming In Song" which was also played on Wednesday for the Grand Entrance.

    Alfie Price, a member of the Yées Ḵu.oo dance group, said it was an honor to perform Wrangell's song.

    Wrangell was the host of this year's Celebration.

    The Kaasitlaan and Shx’at Ḵwáan Dancers were the lead groups of Celebration 2022.

    Price also spoke about his own dance group.

    "I'm part of Yées Ḵu.oo, it means new people, new beginnings in Tlingit. We were gifted the name by Clarence Jackson and he also taught us a couple of songs. It's a multicultural group based here in Juneau. We do songs from Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Aleut tribes. It's multicultural so we have lots of different tribes represented in our group. Sealaska Heritage asks us to do lots of performances. It's been an honor to be part of the group for about 10 years for me. Nancy Barnes is the leader of Yées Ḵu.oo," Price said. "We practiced dancing via Zoom over the pandemic."

    Price also talked about how much it meant to him to participate in Celebration after the long wait.

    "For a long time having not been able to do this, it was really intrinsically rewarding. My heart is full, we've made it, survived, being able to get together again is really good for so many of us, and to see people we haven't seen in a long time," he said. "We are celebrating our culture together."

    Kellie James had this to say about her dance group, Woosh.ji.een which is about 150 members total.

    "We call it Woosh.ji.een because we invite everybody and we try not to uninclude other cultures. A lot of us are all different types. We got Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit, we got Hawaiian, it's for everybody and all cultures and we accept who you are," James said.

    She also commented on a difference the pandemic made for Celebration this year.

    "Usually Grand Exit and Grand Entrance is about 2 to 3 hours because we have 40 dance groups. This year we have 24 to 26 or so dance groups. May not be too long, but long enough for us to actually live in the moment before we have to wait another year," James said.

    She also said Woosh.ji.een's songs commonly honor elders who have passed away, and a song they performed twice over Celebration was to honor her late grandfather, David Katzeek, who passed away two years ago.

    During the Grand Exit, dancers held flags or banners to honor elders and missing and murdered indigenous women and children.

    There were 1,200 dancers total in this year's Celebration.

    Above: Dancers practice on Willoughby before entering the stage. Below: Dancers hold the American Indian Movement Flag.

    Below: Dancers on the stage follow each other down the aisle to complete their Grand Exit, singing and dancing close to their audience.

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