In Juneau, Haa Tóoch Lichéesh solstice celebration offers a chance to heal

Solstice eve in Juneau, Alaska on Dec. 20, 2022 (Photo by Paige Sparks/KTOO)

Wednesday is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

For some in Juneau, it’s an opportunity to work toward healing from the colonial legacy of the Christian holiday season. 

Haa Tóoch Lichéesh Coalition, a violence prevention organization, will celebrate the solstice Wednesday afternoon with a potluck, gift-making, singing and dancing at Generations Southeast. 

“It’s like a way to decolonize the holiday a little bit and get into spirituality, set intention and come together in community to do some traditional-based healing projects,” said organizer Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist.

She said that for Indigenous people, forced conversion to Christianity during the boarding school era has caused continued harm. A holiday that is not linked to Christianity creates space for healing.

Ati Nasiah, also with Haa Tóoch Lichéesh, said the solstice is a time to be intentional about the coming year. 

“We’re asking what those seasonal shifts have to teach us about how to live values-aligned lives, where we’re in reciprocal and healthy relationship with ourselves, with the land, and really working with the seasons in which we find ourselves,” she said.

Attendees can make cottonwood salves, rose rollers and medicinal tea for loved ones.

Juneau will see six hours and 23 minutes of sunlight on the solstice. On Thursday, Juneau will slowly start getting more and more daylight again.

Yvonne Krumrey

Local News Reporter, KTOO

Juneau is built on hidden and assumed layers of power and access, influencing how we interact with identity, with the law and with each other. I bring you stories of the gaps in access to power, and those who are working to close those gaps.

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