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Juneau’s Native Heritage

We honor the Indigenous people who have lived here since time immemorial. Tlingit (“clink-it”), Haida (“high-da”), and Tsimshian (“sim-shee-an”) people are generous with their cultures, sharing their knowledge with others. The Áak’w Kwáan and T’aakú Kwáan are Tlingit Alaska Natives with traditions formed by their intimacy with the natural world. The culture is based on balance and reciprocity with respect as a key quality. Clans and tribes celebrate their cultural vitality with appreciation for the ancestors' adaptation to both traditional and contemporary life. 

In June of event-numbered years, "Celebration" welcomes thousands of Native people to Juneau. Regalia with years of clan history are brought out to proclaim their heritage. Dances performed in new and old ways enrich the understanding of all attending the huge gathering. Following ancient protocols, traditional Tlingit canoes approach shore with cedar paddles pointed to the sky. They request permission to enter clan territory and are received with timeless songs and drumming. Elders are revered.

Today Tlingit names appear on Juneau's buildings, maps, and signs, often with interpretation so all can learn the Indigenous language. In the heart of downtown, Sealaska Heritage's Walter Soboleff Building presents the culture in meaningful exhibits told by the people who know it best. The cultural renaissance enriches everyone's life.