Celebration 2008 Video

Posted by SHI - DNA Research Documenting Shuká Káa

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Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has digitized and posted on YouTube video of Celebration 2008.

  • Celebration is a dance-and-culture festival first held by SHI in 1982 that has grown into the world’s largest gathering of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. The 2008 event featured 52 dance groups from Alaska, the Lower 48 and Canada.

At Celebration 2008, SHI sponsored voluntary DNA testing of tribal members to determine if a young Native man who lived 10,300 years ago had living descendants in Southeast Alaska.

Information from the DNA samples was compared to DNA extracted from the young man’s remains, which were discovered by a paleontologist in 1996 in a cave on Prince of Wales Island. The young man was given the name Shuká Káa (Tlingit for “Man Before Us”).

The DNA sampling ultimately lead to a study that found that Indigenous groups living today in Southeast Alaska and the western coast of British Columbia are descendants of the first humans to make their home in northwest North America more than 11,000 years ago.

We supported DNA testing of Shuká Káa because we believed science ultimately would agree with what our oral traditions have always said – that we have lived in Southeast Alaska since time immemorial,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “Science is corroborating our oral histories.”