First-ever virtual Celebration happens this week

Celebration 2018 grand processional June 6, 2018, Juneau. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter)
Celebration 2018 grand processional June 6, 2018, Juneau. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter)

Without parades of dancers and a packed convention hall, this year’s Celebration will look very different.

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s board of trustees decided to postpone the four-day gathering until June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s virtual Celebration theme is “Have Courage,” in reference to the pandemic that caused the in-person gathering to be postponed. Tlingit artists Donald Héendei Gregory designed this image with a warrior helmet and face shield to represent the strength Alaska Native peoples have always used to overcome challenges, with a devils club leaf in the background to symbolize traditional medicine and healing.(Image courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)

The biennial event typically brings thousands of Alaska Natives from across Southeast and beyond to Juneau for all-day dance performances, fashion shows, arts bazaars and other events celebrating Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.

This year, SHI put together the first-ever virtual Celebration instead. A four-day live broadcast will feature recorded dance performances from 2018 and new videos submitted by past participants.

The theme for this year’s Celebration is “Have Courage.” In addition to dance performances, the virtual events include the toddler regalia review, storytelling segments, a fashion show and a juried art show.

The show kicks off Wednesday night at 7 p.m. with a welcome and tribute to former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, who died last month. It concludes Saturday afternoon.

Viewers can watch the events on SHI’s Youtube channel and on 360 North. A full schedule of events can be found here.

Editor’s note: KTOO is under contract with Sealaska Heritage Institute to produce television and online video coverage of this year’s virtual Celebration.