Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Sealaska Heritage announces dates for Celebration 2024


Event set for June 5-8

July 21, 2022

(About Celebration) (Watch

The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) Board of Trustees have announced the dates for the next in-person Celebration will be June 5-8, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska.

Celebration is one of the largest gatherings of Southeast Alaska Native peoples, drawing thousands of people, including more than 2,000 dancers. Celebration is also a financial boon for Juneau, and an exceptional opportunity to experience traditional culture and art. 

SHI previously announced that Dakhká Khwáan Dancers (People of the Inland), a Tlingit group based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, will be the lead dance group for Celebration 2024. The lead dance group is responsible for leading the Grand Entrance and Grand Exit songs, during which every participating 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. 

Celebration 2020 was a virtual event because of the pandemic. With the release of the vaccine, widespread immunizations, and a well-developed COVID mitigation plan, a live event was recently held in 2022.

The 2022 gathering marked the 40th anniversary of the event that was first held in 1982. SHI President Rosita Worl remarked, “We survived this pandemic. We are still here,” which embodied the theme of Celebration 2022: Celebrating 10,000 Years of Cultural Survival.

About Celebration

SHI held the first Celebration in 1982 at a time when the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian were in danger of losing knowledge of their ancient songs, dances and stories and the meaning behind the crests depicted on their regalia and clan at.óowu (sacred objects). It was held at the urging of Elders, who worried the cultures were dying after a period of severe oppression, during which time Native people did not sing their songs and dance their dances in public. The first Celebration was meant to underscore the fact the cultures had survived for more than 10,000 years.

The event proved to be so profound, SHI’s Board of Trustees decided to sponsor Celebration every other year in perpetuity. Celebration sparked a movement that spread across the region and into the Lower 48 — a renaissance of Southeast Alaska Native culture that prompted people largely unfamiliar with their own heritage to learn their ancestral songs and dances and to make regalia for future Celebrations. Today, Celebration is one of the largest events in Alaska, drawing thousands of people to the four-day festival, including thousands of children.

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,  Photo: Grand Exit, Celebration 2022. Photo by Stacy Unzicker.