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Group hails from Whitehorse, Canada

June 23, 2022

The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) Board of Trustees has named Dakhká Khwáan Dancers (People of the Inland) as the lead dance group for Celebration 2024.

Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, a Tlingit group based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, will lead all dancers for the first time since the group initially performed at Celebration in 2008.

The honor is given to one dance group every two years. The lead dance group is responsible for leading the Grand Entrance and Grand Exit songs, during which every participating dance group dances across the stage to mark the beginning and end of Celebration. That requires the lead group to drum and sing for up to three hours straight during both processions. 

“It means the world to us, we are very honored and humbled to have such a great responsibility upon us,” wrote group leader Marilyn Jensen. “We are also thinking about our ancestors and all of our elders who helped us along the way to be able to prepare for this great honor. We plan on taking it to the next level and cannot wait to dance with our friends and families in 2024!”

Celebration is a major, four-day event organized by Sealaska Heritage every two years. First held in 1982, it has become one of the largest events in the state, drawing thousands of people and millions of dollars to the capital city of Juneau.

It’s a time when Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people come together to celebrate their cultural survival and also to share their cultures with the public.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, SHI Media and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,; Marilyn Jensen, leader of the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, 867.334.9886,  

Caption: Dakhká Khwáan, Dancers (People of the Inland) at Celebration 2022. Photo by Nobu Koch, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Note: Media outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher resolution image, contact