to protect, perpetuate, and enhance Tlingit traditions
Celebration started when a group of Alaska Native elders went to Sitka, Alaska and discussed how they thought Alaska Natives are losing their culture, music, songs, and dances. One elder said, "we are getting older and our hands are getting tighter this Blanket of Knowledge we are making can be passed on the next younger generations."
Alaska Natives went to Sealaska Heritage Foundation to help start Celebration. Sealaska needed to come up with two goals and a mission statement. The goals are: 1.) Preserve and sustain Tlingit cultural traditions and the land environment in which they emerged. 2.) Cherish and respect our elders and to perpetuate and record their knowledge and oral traditions. The mission statement is to protect perpetuate and enhance Tlingit cultural, social political and economic traditions. Sealaska will encourage, promote, the preservation and maintenance of Tlingit traditional culture for the youth and the feature generations. Sealaska came up with three important key points to have the celebration. 1) Elders sharing their knowledge, 2) Native dance groups, sing, dancing and having native arts such as hats, masks, blankets and beading, 3) A numerous number of volunteers working every four hours.
The first Celebration started in 1982, held in Juneau, Alaska every two years. Only twelve dance groups and about a hundred and fifty people came to the first celebration. Now when each dance group goes up on stage there is an entrance and exit dance. There are three buildings Celebration is held at the Centennial Hall, Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and at the Army has arts and crafts. Sealaska decided that each dance group gets to have at least thirty minutes each on the stage.
Sealaska makes programs that have what time each dance group is going to dance, title of the theme, all the names of the staff members, sponsors, and committees. And most important in the program is all the names of the elders and leaders who have passed away and the names of people who were in each dance group. Programs have changed a whole lot. There is more color, ads, photos, and since Celebration has grown over the years there are more dance groups, volunteers.
Celebration is promoted by books, photos, posters, programs, booklets, television, and videotapes. Over the years more people have been attending Celebration. Different Alaska Natives have attended such as: Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida, lower forty-eight natives and other natives attend to Celebration.