Top artists return to Juneau for Sealaska Heritage auction

Gala event was last held in 2014

Three years ago, Sealaska Heritage Institute organized an art auction to partially pay for construction of the Walter Soboleff Center in downtown Juneau.


Today, that building with the cedar facade stands on Front Street, and the art auction is returning with a new goal: Keeping SHI and the Soboleff Center operating.

“With this one, we’re starting our new endowment, so this is kind of kicking all of that off,” said auction organizer Carmaleeda Estrada as she showed some of the items that will be on the block Friday evening in Centennial Hall.

Each is the work of a master craftsman or craftswoman. From Jerrod Galanin comes a copper pendant engraved with formline designs. Duane Pasco offered a carved and embellished eagle headdress.

Items came from Robert Davidson, Delores Churchill, Sonya Kelliher-Combs and others. While their forms differ, each is a distilled piece of skill. Each also comes with a high price: four figures or more.

Friday’s Tináa art auction and show is a gala event intended to highlight some of the best Alaska Native artwork in the world. A dinner and fashion show accompany the event, and all proceeds go to SHI, whose mission is to perpetuate Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture.

SHI director Rosita Kaaháni Worl, in the program accompanying the auction, said she remembers a time when there were so few Native artists that traditional practices were almost entirely lost.

“Through your generosity and through this endowment, we will ensure we never again feel the knowledge of how to make Northwest Coast art slipping away. We will foster new generations of artists who will do their ancestors proud,” she wrote.

There are 11 items in the live auction and more in an accompanying silent auction. The fashion show will feature 50 items of clothing, and the dinner includes local seafood, spirits and other products.

For those who don’t (or can’t) attend Friday night’s event, SHI will host a “pop-up boutique” for shopping in the lobby of the Soboleff Center. That boutique is open from noon to 6:30 p.m. Thursday and is free to attend.

Tickets are still available for Friday night’s art auction via, but patrons don’t need to bid on anything to contribute, Estrada said.Just being there is helping.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or call 523-2258.


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