Wayne Carlick and his wife Debra Michel from Atlin, B.C.  enjoy berry dessert after a fabulous dinner

2015 is the 4th bi-ennial “Kus Te Yea” Celebration held at the Teslin Cultural Center, Teslin, Yukon every odd year from Juneau’s Celebration held on even years.  Most of the audience is from out of town since Teslin is only a community of less than 500(?) people.  People come from Atlin, Whitehorse, Carcross, and of course Teslin.  Then there are the Alaskan communities who are beginning to catch on to this special event which is free to the public; no one pays for the event, not even the dancers or the non-Natives.


Lieutenant Governor of Alaska Byron Mallott dances for the people of Teslin for acknowledging and honoring him and his family

I have been to every Celebration in Teslin since the first one in 2009.  Every year there are a few more new attendees and there are those who return every year no matter what.  That’s how I am too:  I return every year no matter what.  Why?


Nahaan FastFromEnglish from Seattle enjoys the company of many locals and vice versa!

I return because the people and landscape of Yukon Territory are “raw” and down to earth; there are no pretenses, no game-playing, no trying to be somebody you aren’t.  Like the landscape, the people of Yukon are very real…they have to be.  The environment and weather makes you be so.

I remember my long-time friend, musician singer/songwriter, Buddy Tabor making his annual trek to Yukon every year in the late Summer.  He was always eager to visit his friends and make the drive through the raw territory.  He said that he needed his fix; a fix that reminded him of the Alaska that once was before the oil money made things different.  Buddy passed away in 2012.  I never got to share my experiences and feelings about Yukon though I share them whenever I meet those who knew him and whenever I make that sojourn drive like he did.


Marieh and Lance Twitchell and family from Juneau enjoy the feast

Unlike the Celebrations in Juneau, Alaska (held on the even years), the “KusTeYea” Celebration is free; even the dinners are free.  No one pays anything except when they take one of the workshops and pay for the materials and supplies.  Some of those workshops include paddle carving, bentwood box making, snow shoe making, cedar bark weaving and Chilkat or Ravenstail weaving.  Demonstrations include brain-tanned moosehide, preparing and smoking fish, and the infamous salmon fillet contest…not to mention the canoe rides and canoe races.


William Wasden from Alert Bay, B.C. enjoys the company of the beauitful women of Yukon

The event is held in the cultural center and on the shores of Lake Teslin.  There are not enough motels/hotels in Teslin (only 2).  Visitors camp out in the designated areas with full-fledged campsites including elaborate outdoor kitchens, or they have a happy RV camper or a small dome tent suffices.


The canoes from various local communities (including Wayne Price’s dugout from Haines, Alaska), take a rest for the evening before another day of canoe races and canoe rides on Lake Teslin

There are several dance groups that perform each night; one from Carcross, another from Atlin, Whitehorse and of course, Teslin.  Each night the group will do the invitational dance calling out all the various tribes and nationalities called “Gusuu Wa Eh!?”  Translation:  “Where Are You?”  The name of the tribe (or nationality) is called out and if you are from that tribe or nationality, you come on out and show your stuff and drop money onto the “money blanket” which is placed on the floor in front of the stage.  It’s fun; and of course there is always a clown who has to make everyone laugh about him and themselves!


Oh yeah, that’s a nice beaded leather jacket we got going on during the invitational dance!

I prepare for this Celebration every year.  I look forward with happy anticipation knowing fully well that I become more comfortable with our Inland Tlingit relatives and vice versa, I believe they have become more comfortable with me.  Much like the Celebration in Juneau, it’s like a family reunion.


Every night for the 3 days of Celebration, a feast is prepared by 3 different communities: Teslin, Carcross and Atlin


Who is that man staring into the camera? He’s the head hauncho who runs the Teslin Cultural Center; he’s the big Kahuna — yes he does have a name: Kip! Thank you Kip for leading your staff to another great Celebration


Pam Craig (Seattle) with her mother Carol (Juneau) and son, Keet


The Tsimpshian “Git Hoan” Dancers from Metlakatla led by carver David Boxley, Sr. were the special guests during Celebration


The up and coming generation: Yeil Yadi (Sitka), ?, and Ricky Tagaban (Juneau)