Sealaska Heritage Institute Sponsors New Events for Celebration 2024

TV’s Eskimo Ninja Nick Hanson of NBC’s hit show “American Ninja Warrior” kicks off the blanket toss at the 2020 Traditional Games in Juneau. Photo by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.

JUNEAU, Alaska (KINY) — Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is set to sponsor several new events during Celebration 2024, which will begin today and run through Saturday June 8.

Juried Film Festival

SHI will host a Juried Film Festival at Celebration for the first time. From 10 submissions, jurors selected four films to be shown during the event. The winners and their film titles will be announced at 3:30 p.m. today in the clan house at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building. This event will also include awards for the Juried Art Show and Competition and the Juried Youth Art Exhibit.

The festival jurors were Ed Littlefield, a Tlingit percussionist, educator, and composer, and Frank Katasse, a Tlingit actor, director, producer, improviser, educator, and playwright. The films will be screened at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 7, at the Gold Town Theater at 171 Shattuck Way, Suite 109, inside the Emporium Mall.

Premiere of Tlingit Macbeth

SHI will premiere the film “Tlingit Macbeth,” originally written by William Shakespeare and translated into Tlingit by Johnny Marks during his tenure at the institute. Directed by Anita Maynard-Losh of Perseverance Theatre, the play was performed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C. in 2007. A film crew documented the performance, and SHI recently received a grant to edit the final program, produced by Morgan Howard Productions.

Set in the context of Tlingit culture, the production merges Shakespeare’s words with the language, music, dancing, and visual design of the region’s first peoples. The film will debut at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, at Gold Town Theater.

Elder Photo Booth

At Centennial Hall in the Elders’ Room, SHI will set up a photo booth to document Elders attending Celebration. Elders aged 65 and older are welcome to participate, wearing either regalia or street clothes. SHI may use the images for educational and cultural purposes, and Elders will receive a copy of their portrait after Celebration.

Blanket Toss

SHI will sponsor an Indigenous skin blanket toss, a traditional feature of the Native Youth Olympics (also known as Traditional Games), during Celebration 2024. Historically, the blanket toss was used in the Arctic to help hunters see across the horizon to hunt game. Today, it is performed for fun, with participants aiming to stay balanced and not fall over. The event is scheduled at the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus plaza at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday, June 6.

Cultural Orientation and Viewing of Chilkat Robes

SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D., will give an orientation on Southeast Alaska Native cultures, providing an overview of the complex cultures and societies of the region’s first peoples. Dr. Worl’s Tlingit names are Yeidiklas’akw and Ḵaaháni, and she belongs to the Ch’áak’ (Eagle) moiety of the Shangukeidí­ (Thunderbird) clan from the Kawdliyaayi Hít (House Lowered from the Sun) in Klukwan. She is also an anthropologist with numerous honors, including the American Anthropological Association’s Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology.

Dr. Worl’s orientation will accompany a viewing of two old Chilkat robes recently acquired by SHI. One robe, believed to be at least 150 years old, was purchased at auction by private donors and gifted to SHI in February. The other robe is on loan from the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and arrived in Juneau in May.

About Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute, a private nonprofit founded in 1980, aims to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. The organization promotes cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. It conducts social scientific and public policy research to support Alaska Native arts, cultures, history, and education statewide. SHI 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 Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907-321-4636, kathy.dye@sealaska.com.