Sealaska Heritage digitizes, posts celebration 2006

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has digitized and posted on YouTube the video of Celebration 2006.

    Celebration is a dance-and-culture festival first held by SHI in 1982 that has grown into the world’s largest gathering of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The 2006 event featured 43 dance groups from Alaska and Canada.

    The theme was “Reflections of Our Ancestors in the Faces of Our Children.”

    “The board of trustees selected our theme to focus on the survival of our culture through our children,” said Rosita Worl, SHI president. “It goes back to one of our traditional concepts that we have of Haa Shuká where we respect our Elders but we also recognize that we have an obligation to our children.”

    In honor of the theme, SHI sponsored its first Baby Regalia Review during the event.

    “The event goes right along with our theme. We wanted to highlight our children and show that even at a young age they’re already being introduced and immersed in our culture,” Worl said.

    The event, now called the Toddler Regalia Review, has been a feature of Celebration since 2006. The Toddler Regalia Review has become one of the most popular Celebration events as it engages multiple generations of parents, grandparents, and other family or clan members who come together to fabricate blankets, vests, headdresses, drums, rattles, leggings or jewelry. The pride of that family and clan is represented on stage during this event.

    In addition to the review, the festival featured a Native Artists Market, a parade through downtown, a black seaweed contest, canoe races, a Juried Art Show, artist lectures, and repatriation and language workshops.

    SHI sought grants to digitize and share past Celebration tapes so the footage could be used as a resource for dance groups wanting to learn from past performances, language learners wanting to hear Elders speaking, people wanting to learn more about their culture and to teach others about Southeast Alaska Native cultures. Another goal was to use the footage to learn about traditional oratory, a skill mastered by Southeast Alaska Natives.

    The rest of SHI’s Celebration footage, up through Celebration 2016, will be posted online. Celebration 2018 was the first Celebration posted on YouTube in its entirety in 2019.

    The Celebration: 10,000 Years of Cultural Survival project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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