Sealaska Heritage releases hour-long film highlighting 40 years of Celebration

Sealaska Heritage Institute has released an hour-long film on the history and origin of Celebration since the first gathering in 1982.

The film, titled “40 Years of Celebration - A Biennial Festival of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Cultures,” begins with the first Celebration when Native people came together in Juneau to celebrate their cultures. The film shows the growth of the event over the years.

It started off with primarily elders and has expanded to include all ages.

It also has grown to include art shows, a Native artists market, food contests, Native fashion show, a toddler regalia review, a parade and other special events.

“Imagine that for the first time ever in our long house we have the three nations under one roof,” Judson Brown, chair of Sealaska Heritage Institute, said at the 1982 event. “I believe this is one of the most historic occasions for our three designated tribes. I believe we will remember this day probably into infinity.”

Celebration draws thousands of people to Juneau every other year and is the largest gathering of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people in the world.

The film, which premiered in June at Celebration 2022, includes footage of the first Celebration and interviews with numerous people. The documentary was produced by Sealaska Heritage Institute through Farthest North Films, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Education Alaska Native Education Program.

The program includes closed captions, which viewers can toggle on or off.

The film is available on the institute’s website:

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. It also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide.


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