Canoes arrive and unofficially kick off Celebration 2018

Paddlers canoe in Douglas Harbor on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of canoes finished their weeklong journey to Juneau. The landing is the unofficial beginning of Celebration. The days-long festival is held every two years to celebrate Southeast Alaska Native culture.

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The group of canoes have traveled from Ketchikan, Sitka, Kake, Angoon, Hoonah, Yakutat — even Canada.

Clan leaders at Douglas Harbor gave permission to One People Canoe Society and its canoes to land. And then they welcomed those arriving by water at the boat ramp.

Many of the canoes will travel to the former Thane Ore House across Gastineau Channel for a community gathering and potluck. The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is turning the site into a cultural immersion park.

Southeast Alaska’s largest Native cultural gathering officially begins Wednesday. Celebration has happened every other year since 1982. This year’s theme is “Respect: Weigh Your Words.”

About 5,000 participants and 2,000 dancers will take part in Celebration this year.

Celebration also includes a juried adult and youth art show, a regalia care workshop, a Native artists market and the ever-popular toddler regalia revue.

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