Juneau, AK (KINY) - Throughout this week, people from all over Alaska will be coming into Juneau for the 19th Celebration to sing, dance, craft, and celebrate Native heritage.
Carmaleeda Estrada, who is an Operations Officer at Sealaska, talked to us about what can be expected of the festivities. The event kicks off as people from the southeast region arrive by canoe on Tuesday morning at the Douglas Boat Harbor.
"The Canoe Arrival is held by the One People Canoe Society, it's not sponsored by SHI, but it has definitely become a big part of Celebration. You have communities from all over Southeast who are participating in it and who have paddling for the last week and visiting our communities. The Arrival has become a big part of the kickoff of Celebration."
Estrada also shared with us the history of the event.
"This is our 19th Celebration. This event began back in 1982, and began as the Sealaska and the Sealaska Board of Trustees at the request of our Elders wanting an event that would provide a way for our people to continue their culture."
"That first event in 1982, there was only a handful of children and a couple hundred adults. People were worried at the time that the culture was not going to survive. With that first Celebration it sparked a movement across Alaska, a renaissance of Native culture that prompted people unfamiliar with their heritage to learn their songs, learn their dances, to make regalia for future celebrations."
A while back there was a study on what the economic impact of Celebration entailed for Juneau.
"We knew that Celebration was huge, but we didn't realize the huge impact that it has on the community of Juneau, but there was study done in 2012 by the McDowell Group and it showed that each Celebration generates an estimated economic impact of 2.2 million for the community of Juneau."
Estrada also shared with us her thoughts on the value of the event.
"I think it has become this huge motivator in our community that is growing each year. I'm from Angoon and just being able to witness that as I grew up how much Celebration is really the driver in a lot of communities for dancing, singing, continuing to make regalia, young kids that are composing songs in Tlingit, we see a lot of these things happening and it's because of Celebration."
"It has become a part of our culture, it really has. I think that the movement that it creates in our communities and beyond our communities is just amazing to see."
To find a list of all the events that are taking place, schedules are available for purchase at the Sealaska Heritage store or at Centennial Hall later this week. There is also more information on the Sealaska website.