June 08, 2008
Celebration was conceived in
1980 at the first Sealaska Elders conference. At that meeting,
Elders asked Sealaska to help preserve and perpetuate the culture
of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. In response, Sealaska
founded the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and in 1982, the Institute
organized the first Celebration. That first festival drew 12
dance groups and 150 people. Today, Celebration is one of the
largest gatherings in Alaska.
Photo by Bill Hess, courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute
In addition, SHI will sponsor DNA testing during Celebration to determine if a young Native man who lived 10,300 years ago has living descendants in Southeast Alaska. Information from the DNA samples will be compared to DNA extracted from the remains, which were discovered by a paleontologist in 1996 in a cave on Prince of Wales Island.
Lead Researcher Dr. Brian Kemp from Washington State University and a team of colleagues will collect DNA samples from Native people in the lobby of Centennial Hall Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Kemp and his colleagues also spearheaded DNA research on the human remains, and their findings were reported last year in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Other events include a black seaweed contest, a Toddler Regalia Review for kids ages 2-4, a parade through downtown, language workshops, a Juried Art Show and a Native Artist Market
Winners of its biennial Juried Art Show and Competition were announced on June 4. Six artists took top awards at the fourth Sealaska Juried Art Competition in Juneau for best contemporary and traditional Native art. Thirty-nine pieces by 19 artists were selected by juror and artist Steve Brown for inclusion in the show, scheduled June 4-27. The Native Artist Market will offer Native art made by 45 Native artists. The market will be open for the duration of Celebration.
The winners, chosen by juror Steve Brown, an artist and expert on Northwest Coast formline, are:
Thirteen other artists also were chosen to exhibit their work in the show. Those artists included:
The artist Norman Jackson of Kake passed away after he entered the contest, and he was recognized at the ceremony by SHI President Rosita Worl and Juror Steve Brown. Cheney, who is Jackson's sister, said he taught her about form line and weaving.
"I'm excited and happy I was recognized and my brother was recognized, and my brother's son is here, and he heard some of the wonderful things Steve Brown said about my brother," Cheney said.
Ehlers, who won Best of Show Traditional, also won 2nd place for her Chilkat weavings.
"I'm amazed because there's some beautiful, beautiful carvings and weaving here, I'm just very, very surprised and pleased," Ehlers said.
Their work will be on exhibit at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center through June 27. Many of the pieces are available for purchase.
SHI founded the biennial Juried Art Show and Competition in 2002 to promote the development of Southeast Alaska Native arts. To ensure an objective judging process, the names of the artists were not included with the photos of objects viewed during selection.
Dance performances and other
events were scheduled June 5-7. The theme is "Tlingit, Haida
Tsimshian Dancing on the Land."
"You take a teaspoon of berries and whip it up and it will become a very large bowl of frothy it looks like soap. But if you don't do it right, you're not going to be able to whip it up," said Worl, noting one of the goals is to introduce kids to traditional foods. "We hope this is one of the ways for our younger people to see this kind of specialty food we have."
Two people took top prizes
for traditional-food contests at Celebration 2008. The winners
of the first soapberry contest, seaweed throwdown were announced.
The 2008 festival is sponsored
by the following businesses, organizations and individuals: Sealaska
Corporation, City and Borough of Juneau, National Endowment for
the Arts, Carolyn M. Kleefeld, Kauffman and Associates, ConocoPhillips,
Mary and Chris McNeil, Southeast Stevedoring, Wells Fargo, Boyer
Towing, KPMG, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Orrick, Herrington
& Sutcliffe LLP, Perry, Johnson, Anderson, Miller, &
Moskowitz LLP, Pyramid Communications, Sealaska Environmental
Services LLC, University of Alaska Southeast, GCI, Alaska USA
Mortgage, Dan Laforce DBA/Tee Harbor Construction, Elgee, Rehfeld,
Mertz, Law Offices of Simpson, Tillinghast & Sorensen, P.C.,
Managed Business Solutions, LLC, Phoenix Logging, PilieroMazza
PLLC, Prochot Enterprises, Terra Verde, Inc., Tee Harbor Construction,
Anthony and Linda Mallott, Rosita Worl, Lee & Louise Kadinger,
Alaska Electric Light & Power Co., Alaska Litho, Columbia
Helicopters, Inc., Doyon Limited, Eagle Capital Management, Holland
America Line, Inc., Jensen Yorba Lott, Juneau Lions Club, Nicole
Hallingstad, Rick Harris and Pat Tynan, Timko International Co.,
Samuel Landol, Marlene Johnson, Sandy Samaniego, SEARHC, Jacqueline
Johnson, Marjorie Young, Jodi Mitchell, Sarah Dybdahl, Zachary
Jones, Michael Obert, Juneau Electric, Koniag, Inc., Northern
Sales Company Inc., Otis Elevator Co., Jeane Breinig, Ethel Lund,
Nancy Barnes, Resource Data, Inc., William G. Demmert, Byron
and Antoinette Mallott, Andrew Williams, Lola Foss, Deena LaRue,
Barbara Thurston, Consulting Actuary, Clarence Jackson, Sr.,
Debi and Tate London, Creative Source, Joe and Belen Cook, Martin
Neff DBA/ Bootlegger, National Assessment, R.D. Brown Co., Robert
Martin, Jr., Stanley Eberhard, Joe and Mary Nelson, Sidney Edenshaw,
Walter Soboleff, Competitive Edge Office Systems, Inc., JUSTGIVE/Dreimer,
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