A grand entrance to Celebration 2012

Celebration 2012 is officially underway. Southeast Alaska’s largest Native cultural gathering kicked off in earnest this morning (Thursday) with the Grand Entrance Procession in Juneau. KTOO’s Casey Kelly has more.


Hundreds of Native Alaskans gathered in downtown Juneau for the Grand Entrance for Celebration 2012.

Hundreds of Native Alaskans gathered in downtown Juneau for the Grand Entrance for Celebration 2012. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Dozens of groups, decked out in Chilkat blankets, button robes and other Native regalia, made their way singing, dancing and drumming through Juneau’s Willoughby District from the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall to Centennial Hall.

Hundreds of spectators lined the parade route. Robert Sharclane, who grew up in Hoonah and now lives in Juneau, brought his kids.

“I’m half Tlingit, and it’s a fairly statewide, large and special event, and I just wanted them to participate in it and get an experience seeing it,” he said.

Sharclane’s nine-year-old daughter Pearl was wowed by the various dance groups.

“It’s cool to watch it and all the dresses they have,” she said.

Once all 55 groups made it into Centennial Hall, Sealaska Heritage Institute and Corporation officials formally opened the ceremony. SHI Trustee Clarence Jackson read a list of elders who have passed away since the last Celebration in 2010, including Dr. Walter Soboleff, the renowned Tlingit Presbyterian minister who helped found Sealaska Heritage Institute in 1980. Soboloeff was 102-years-old when he passed away last year.

Celebration was first held 30 years ago, after Sealaska Native Corporation founded the non-profit Heritage Institute to document and preserve the cultures and traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The event is held every other year and has expanded to include Native groups from outside Southeast Alaska.

Representatives from the Nisqually Tribe of Washington performed a traditional welcome song at the Grand Entrance.

SHI President Rosita Worl thanked all the dance groups, which she credits for making Celebration a success.

“We owe Celebration to our dancers. We owe Celebration to our ancestors. We owe Celebration to our children,” Worl said. “We know our culture is going to be strong and carry on for the next 10,000 years.”

This year’s Celebration events run through Saturday at Centennial Hall and other locations around Juneau. Organizers estimate 2,000 people will participate, with another 5,000 attending as audience members.

The Native Alaska Veterans started the parade to Centenial Hall.

Hundreds of Native Alaskans gathered in downtown Juneau for the Grand Entrance for Celebration 2012.

Drumming and singing their way down Willoughby Street.

Reggie Davidson with the Tullgundlas Xyaal Xaadee group blows a whistle.

A girl with the Keex Kwaan dancers smiles at the crowd.

A dancer with the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Dancers moves to the drumbeat.

A dancer with the Gajaa Heen Dancers wears a wooden wolf mask.

A woman with the Tuulgundalas Xyaal Xaadee group wears brightly colored robes.

A dancer with the Haandei I Jin group.

A young boy wears a wooden mask for the Grand Entrance.

Joe Zuboff from the Xudzikaa Khwáan Dancers.

A man with the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Dancers wears fur and carries a fan made of feathers.

A dancer with the Heinyaa Kwaan group holds fans made of feathers.

The Native Alaska Veterans started the parade to Centenial Hall. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Hundreds of Native Alaskans gathered in downtown Juneau for the Grand Entrance for Celebration 2012. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Drumming and singing their way down Willoughby Street. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Reggie Davidson with the Tullgundlas Xyaal Xaadee group blows a whistle. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A girl with the Keex Kwaan dancers smiles at the crowd. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A dancer with the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Dancers moves to the drumbeat. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A dancer with the Gajaa Heen Dancers wears a wooden wolf mask. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A woman with the Tuulgundalas Xyaal Xaadee group wears brightly colored robes. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A dancer with the Haandei I Jin group. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A young boy wears a wooden mask for the Grand Entrance. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Joe Zuboff from the Xudzikaa Khwáan Dancers. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A man with the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Dancers wears fur and carries a fan made of feathers. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A dancer with the Heinyaa Kwaan group holds fans made of feathers. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Comments

comments