NEWS_What’s New: Celebration to include new food contest, poetry gathering, regalia and designer workshops, more

NEWS_What’s New: Celebration to include new food contest, poetry gathering, regalia and designer workshops, more

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

May 30, 2018

(Schedule of Events & Venue Map) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will introduce several new events at Celebration 2018 in an effort to expand knowledge of cultural practices.

New events include a regalia care workshop, a modeling workshop, a designer workshop, a Baby Raven Celebration, a film screening in Shuká Hít (the clan house) at the Walter Soboleff Building, a poetry gathering and three research projects.

New Food Contest

SHI this year also added a best seal oil category to its Native food competitions.

“Northwest Coast people have long depended on seals for their meat, fur and oil, and seal oil to this day is an integral part of our diet,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “The oil is poured on salmon, halibut, rice and other dishes to enhance flavor.”

Contestants may submit seal oil with or without crackling (fat). Judging for this and other food contests for best soapberries and black seaweed will be broadcast live at Centennial Hall this year. People competing for best soapberries also will whip up their dishes at that time. The event is scheduled from 12-1 pm, Thursday, June 7.

Regalia Care Workshop

SHI’s professional staff will lead a workshop discussing ways to care for, transport and store regalia. The workshop is scheduled from 10 am-12 pm, Friday, second floor, Walter Soboleff Building.

Modeling and Designer Workshops

Fashion show director Amber-Dawn Bear Robe of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe will lead a model workshop at 4 pm, Wednesday, third floor, Walter Soboleff Building. The workshop is open to anyone interested in modeling for SHI’s Native Fashion Show at Celebration 2018 or for future shows. Later, Chilkat/Ravenstail weaver and former pro snowboarder Meghann O’Brien will lead a designer workshop for anyone interested in designing pieces for future fashion shows sponsored by SHI. The session will include discussion on Indigenous perspectives in fashion, weaving, and carrying tradition forward in a respectful way. Meghann is an immerging designer from the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw tribes of British Columbia. That workshop is scheduled from 6-8 pm, Thursday, second floor, Walter Soboleff Building. SHI’s Native Fashion Show is scheduled from 6-7 pm at Centennial Hall.

Film Screenings

For the first time, SHI will host a film screening in Shuká Hít (the clan house) at the Walter Soboleff Building during Celebration. The film, Magnetic North: Nathan Jackson, is part of a documentary series exploring the personality and character of six Alaskans whose actions and ideas have shaped the history, spirit and values of our state. The film was produced by the Alaska Humanities Forum in partnership with the Rasmuson Foundation, and the screening will focus on a segment about Tlingit master artist Nathan Jackson, who will participate in a Q&A session immediately after. As in previous Celebrations, Gold Town Theater will also have film screenings, including Keep Talking, a documentary on Alaska Native language revitalization; and Journeys to Adäka, a documentary that follows seven Indigenous artists as they prepare for the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Poetry Event

SHI will also sponsor a poetry gathering, Singing Praises to You: Alaska Native Poetry. The event will include poetry and performance and feature a special tribute to the late poet Nora Marks Dauenhauer. Featured poets include Robert Davis Hoffmann, Ishmael Hope, X’unei Lance Twitchell, Vivian Mork and host Donna Beaver. The gathering is scheduled from 7-9 pm, Friday, at Shuká Hít (the clan house) at the Walter Soboleff Building.

Baby Raven Celebration

SHI will sponsor a Baby Raven Celebration as a part of its Baby Raven Reads program; this event is open to all families with children ages 5 and under.  Families are invited to dance, sing, and play at Shuká Hít (the clan house) from 12:45 -1:45 Friday, at the Walter Soboleff Building. Book distribution to follow.


SHI will host three research teams enrolled in the institute’s Visiting Scholars Program during Celebration. Visiting Scholar Torah Harding-Laman is of Tsimshian descent from Ketchikan. She is an undergraduate student conducting research on the revitalization of the Tsimshian language, Sm’algyax. Torah is looking for individuals to interview who have a connection to Tsimshian language or culture for her project. Anyone who has knowledge that might contribute to Torah’s research can find her from 10 am-12 pm and 2-4 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. She can be reached at (907) 617-2003.

SHI also is hosting returning Visiting Scholars Dr. Caitlin Stern and Dr. Jessie Livia Barker, who are continuing their research into Alaska Native identity. They will have a table in the Centennial Hall lobby to interview participants in their project. 

Visiting Scholar Dr. Bronwyn Tarr is researcher from the University of Oxford, UK.  Her work is about understanding the social and well-being effects of group dancing, and she is collecting stories from different dance traditions and cultural practices around the world. Dr. Tarr will be attending Celebration as a participant observer, but also hopes to meet and interview performers from several groups and members of the public.

Major sponsors of Celebration 2018 include Sealaska, Alaska Airlines, Southeast Regional Health Consortium, BP Alaska, Rasmuson Foundation, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, GCI, Salon Cedar, Southeast Stevedoring Corporation, Wells Fargo Foundation and Wostmann & Associates. A list of all sponsors will be published in the Celebration program and broadcast during the event.

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: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Caption: Regalia care workshop at Sealaska Heritage in 2016.

For a high resolution image, contact


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