Celebration's Walk to Centennial Hall, 2006
Date(s)First week of June
FrequencyOnce every 2 years
Location(s)Juneau, Alaska
CountryUnited States of America
Organized bySealaska Heritage Institute

Celebration is a biennial Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultural event held during the first week of June in Juneau, Alaska, United States that occurs once every three years.[1]

First held in 1982, Celebration began as a way to pass on cultural knowledge to Native Alaskan children. The first event had 200 participants, and was mainly a dance festival. It has grown to be the largest cultural event in Alaska.[2][quantify]

It is sponsored and organized by the Sealaska Heritage Institute, the non-profit cultural arm of Sealaska Corporation.[3] The 2012 Celebration was reported to have brought $2 million into the Juneau economy.[4]


Haida master carver dances with her child at Celebration, circa 2016.

The event consists of a five-day program of activities, starting with the Grand Entrance, a parade of all dance groups through Juneau and into Centennial Hall.[2] Regular activities include workshops on the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian language, Northwest Coast art, and Southeast Alaska Indian cultures and historical events; canoe racing; dance performances; film screenings; poetry gatherings; and a Native fashion show.[5][6][2] The Celebration also sponsors traditional food contests, including soapberry and black seaweed, to introduce people to traditional Native foods and highlight the health benefits of these foods.[7]

Native Artist Market

The Native Artist Market supports Native artists and is open to only those artists who are members of federally recognized tribes and meet the requirement of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, or Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian who are Canadian citizens. Artists sell jewelry, masks, drums, dolls, decorative arts, and other handmade arts and crafts.[2]

Art competition

The Juried Art Show and Competition started in 2002 to showcase and encourage the production of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian art. The art show also encouraged the development of new, contemporary art that was based on traditional forms, but this proved controversial. Contemporary Native artists were concerned that judges were biased in favor of "traditional" art, so contemporary art was recognized as its own category starting with the second show.[2]

Baby Regalia Review

The Baby Regalia Review started in 2006, as an opportunity to share with children their culture and heritage. During the review, each child is introduced by their European and Native names, tribal and clan membership, and the names of their parents and grandparents.[2]

There was no Celebration in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[citation needed]

The 2022 theme was "Celebrating 10,000 years of cultural survival." This was announced by Rosita Worl, president of Sealaska Heritage Institute.[1] During that year's event, Juneau unveiled the first 360-degree totem pole in Alaska: the 22-foot-tall Sealaska Cultural Values Totem Pole.[1] The structure, carved out of a 600-year-old cedar tree, "represents all three tribes of Southeast Alaska — Lingít, Haida and Tsimshian."[8]

In popular culture

In 2020, Celebration was featured as a plot point in the PBS animated series Molly of Denali, in the episode "Canoe Journey." The Gwichʼin protagonist and her family canoe to Juneau to attend the event, relying on traditional elder advice rather than maps. A local elder describes the route he took in his childhood including secret shortcuts, which aid the protagonists in their own expedition. The episode educates children about traditional Alaskan wayfinding.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Media, Alaska Public; Media, Adelyn Baxter, Alaska Public; Media, Alaska Public (2022-06-08). "Celebration set to kick off in Juneau". KTOO. Retrieved 2023-01-22.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Worl, Rosita (2008). Celebration: Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian Dancing on the Land. Sealaska Heritage Institute/University of Washington Press.
  3. ^ "Celebration 2010 Begin Wednesday". Juneau Empire. Juneau, Alaska. 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  4. ^ Alexander, Rosemarie (2012-06-15). "Celebration dumps $2 million into Juneau economy, study says". KTOO. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  5. ^ KTOO, Adelyn Baxter (2018-06-10). "Elders look on with pride as younger generations step up at Celebration 2018". KTOO. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  6. ^ "Celebration 2018 starts Wednesday | Juneau Empire". Juneau Empire. 2018-06-04. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  7. ^ "Celebration of Soapberries and Seaweed". Alaska Journal of Commerce. Vol. 40, no. 25. June 19, 2016. p. 3.
  8. ^ Beacon, Alaska; Beacon, Lisa Phu, Alaska; Beacon, Alaska (2022-06-01). "First 360-degree totem pole in Alaska was recently installed in Juneau". KTOO. Retrieved 2023-01-22.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

58°18′00″N 134°24′27″W / 58.30000°N 134.40750°W / 58.30000; -134.40750