Arriving in Alaska

Arriving in Alaska

This blog is written from the LeConte, an Alaska State Ferry traveling from Juneau to Hoonah.

writing the blog on the ferry

writing the blog on the ferry

The kids and Ted and I have spent the last three days in Juneau, at the gathering of Tlingit and Haida natives which takes place once every two years. Groups from the many villages from Alaska and British Columbia come together to share their songs and dances, old friends reconnect and there is dancing and drumming non-stop. The singers and dancers wear regalia representing their clans, decorated with buttons, beads and fur.   It is a time to renew cultural values and remember their heritage. Seneca and Raven are enrolled Tlingit tribal members and it is a good to see them get excited about this part of their heritage.

waiting for canoes

Canoes

The day we arrived we went to Douglas Island to watch canoes arrive from some of the villages. There were about 10 canoes. The ceremony was quite different from what we have seen locally, the paddlers had stopped and changed into their regalia just before arriving. They circled for most of an hour then rafted together and came to shore as one. It was estimated that 1500 people waited on the shore to greet them, singing and drumming while waiting. From there we went into Juneau to watch the dancing, we spent hours watching and did some volunteer work as well.

Dancers rearr

Dancers show the backs of their regalia, which show where they are from.

children dancing

A children’s dance group performs

Entry of the dancers from Hoonah

Entry of the dancers from Hoonah

Regalia of one of the Hoonah dancers

 

Huna back

Backs of the regalia of the dancers from Hoonah

Carved wooden raven dancing mask

Carved wooden dancing mask

Seneca and Raven’s relatives are from the village of Hoonah which is a three hour ferry ride from Juneau. We have been there before and look forward to our visit as well as to the ride itself through islands and past mountains, with the hope of seeing whales keeping us looking out to sea. Looking back we can see the Mendenhal Glacier coming like a river down the mountains.

Views from the ferry

Views from the ferry

View from the ferry.

View from the ferry.

Seneca and Raven

Seneca and Raven are occupied at the moment with computer games and a phone call just came to Ted’s cell phone to wish him a happy Father’s Day, so we remain connected in many ways.