McKayla Paul participates with her mother in the Toddler Fashion Show on the main stage at Centennial Hall for Celebration 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

McKayla Paul participates with her mother in the Toddler Fashion Show on the main stage at Centennial Hall for Celebration 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

At toddler review, the story’s in the regalia

Five-year-old McKayla Paul, of the Deisheetaan (Beaver Clan), took to the stage naturally at Thursday’s Celebration 2018 Toddler Regalia Review. Her face wide with a smile, she twirled in a red-and-black traditional blanket made by her auntie, holding down front and center stage with confidence, her expecting mother Erica George behind her.

Every piece of her traditional outfit — a bib embroidered with beaded dragonflies, an octopus purse embellished by images of flowers and kelp, a headband and a robe signifying nobility — tells a story of heritage, pride and clan history.

Take the dragonflies. The story goes that when the Deisheetaan were in a clan war, Paul’s grandmother Victoria Milton explained, a guard overlooking the clan at night became drowsy. Dragonflies pecked at the guard’s face, keeping him awake, Milton said.

“It was a signification to us that the dragonfly had saved us during that time, so we claimed it,” Milton said.

The dragonflies are also just cool, Paul said, “Cause they fly around.”

Paul’s robe marks her as a member of the noble class, Milton went on. There were three different classes, blue blood, common and a slave class, Milton said. “We come from what is called blue blood, that’s who we are,” Milton said.

Others at the 2018 review had their own stories to tell. Elizabeth Awasti George-Frank, all of 3 years old, wore a Chilkat blanket woven by her mother Shgen George. Chilkat weaving is an ancient, painstakingly-intricate style of weaving that was once nearly lost to history.

Thanks in part to a revival in Chilkat weaving, new practitioners like Shgen have learned the art from a small group of master weavers. Shgen learned how to weave the blanket, her first, recently from local weaver Clarissa Rizal. It’s adorned with a glacier pattern, an important image for the family’s Daklaweidi (Killer Whale) heritage. The buttons on the blanket represent bubbles mentioned in an important clan song.

With her sister Gabbi George-Frank beside her, Elizabeth displayed the blanket in front of a packed Centennial Hall crowd.

Shgen is proud of her children, and the event is a great opportunity to show them off, she said. But the toddler review is also a way to steep the next generation of Native culture bearers in their ancient way of life, Shgen said. “Surrounding our children with their culture is so important. Being at Celebration is a great opportunity to immerse our kids in song and dance,” she said.

Tlingit, Tsimshian and Haida people from far and wide come to Celebration to do just that. Canadian Cherish Clarke and Mike Rudyk, inland Tlingit with ties to Juneau, as Clarke put it, brought their children Jett Rudyk and Mariella Wentzell from Whitehorse, Yukon to Juneau for the event. Mike rode three days in a canoe for the unofficial canoe landing start.

Jett, 3, who has been given the traditional name Da Ke (or Speaker), represented the family on stage. Clarke and Mariella, both also dressed in regalia, stood by his side.

The Rudyk-Clarke family is Yanyeidi, or Wolf Clan. Clarke said their regalia ties the whole family history together. She wore slippers matching Jett and Mariella’s, gifted to her when her father died in October. Bracelets honored her parents on one arm, and Mike, her husband, on the other.

“You have so many people that love you who work on your regalia. It’s one of our most prized possessions,” Clarke said.

 


 

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

 


 

Children and their parents participate in the Toddler Fashion Show on the main stage at Centennial Hall for Celebration 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Children and their parents participate in the Toddler Fashion Show on the main stage at Centennial Hall for Celebration 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Life

This screenshot from the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference website shows the faculty who will be attending the conference, held virtually May 15-18. From left to right, top row, are Francisco Cantu, Victoria Chang, Ernestine Hayes, and Brandon Hobson. From left to right, bottom row, are Anis Mojgani, Marie Mutsuki Mockett and Vera Starbard.
Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference includes readings for the public

After hiatus, annual event back as program transitions out of pandemic

Alex Rydlinski holds one of his pieces in an Instagram photo from July 18, 2020. (Alex Rydlinski)
Alex Rydlinski holds one of his pieces in an Instagram photo from July 18, 2020. (Alex Rydlinski)
Art Guild welcomes self-taught artist as new executive director

Originally from Fairbanks, Rydlinski was looking for a place “off the grid”

Foreground, from left to right: Kenai Middle School seventh grader Cooper Tallent-Darling and eighth grader Gavin Hunt perform as their “Lion King” characters, Simba and Mufasa, while the rest of the cast acts in the background. The school drama department recorded and filmed a rendition of the Disney movie and premiered it in May 2021. (Photo provided by Kenai Middle School drama)
Kenai Middle School produces movie musical rendition of ‘The Lion King Jr.’

The film is available to stream online this weekend.

Sierra Moskios is the coordinator for the REC Room. Moskios recently received an Alaska Afterschool Superhero award for her dedication to the youth of Homer. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Moskios earns Alaska Afterschool Superhero award

Sierra Moskios earned the Alaska Afterschool Superhero award for her dedication to Homer youth.

A souffle omelet takes a delicate hand but offers rich flavors and sophisticated textures. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A Mother’s Day omelet from the heart

Mother’s Day has been one of the hardest days of every year since my mother left this world 13 years ago.

Brie and caramel apple voulevant is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, photographed in April, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A celebration of food

Make first gatherings special with this simple but sophisticated brie and caramel apple voulevant.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Time to enjoy, not to annoy

I’m already overhearing growing concerns about whether or not the usual influx of tourists to the peninsula will be dampened due to the surging tsunami of fuel costs.

Photos courtesy John Schoen
Mary Beth Schoen admires a large-tree old-growth stand in Saook Bay on northeastern Baranof Island. Some individual trees were over 6 feet in diameter and many centuries old. This riparian area was adjacent to a salmon stream and was full of bear trails. Large-tree old growth stands are rare on the Tongass.
‘Tongass Odyssey’ explores decades of research, politics and change

‘What we learned is that old growth forest is very important’

Will Morrow (courtesy)
When did I get wise?

When did I turn into that old guy who feels like he has to give everyone else advice?

Most Read