Film Festivals, Native Fashion Shows and World Class Art at Indian Market Week

By Sandra Hale Schulman
- News From Indian Country(NFIC) -

The warm dry air of a Santa Fe summer welcomed hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world during the Santa Fe Indian Market Week. This year was filled with Film Festivals, actor appearances, concerts and more art and jewelry than could possibly be seen.

Film Festivals got the jump on the cultural overload with two festivals running different types of programming. The National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase took over the luxe theater of the New Mexico History Museum just off the Plaza for a weeks worth of educational documentaries and conversations.

I caught a program that included  Shásh Jaa’: Bears Ears by director Angelo Baca (Navajo/Hopi) about the 1.9 million acres of Utah wilderness considered sacred land to the Native American communities of the region. They unite to protect this pristine area from natural resource extraction and designate it a National Monument in collaborative management partnership with tribes.

Another film, Return, from Karen Cantor focused on the community’s declining health, and how Native American women are reclaiming ancient traditions leading toward better pre-contact food choices and spiritual awakening

I was awed by the cinematography in Then, Now, and Forever: Zuni in the Grand Canyon from Daniel Byers that follows Ashiwi rain priests and medicine men in a sacred migration down the Colorado River. The journey takes place from the pueblo at Halona Idiwana’a to shrines and ancient settlements and through canyon walls carved by the petroglyphs of the ancestors which come alive in animation sequences to tell their story.

An educational film featured at the Red Nation Film Festival

Edgier films were the focus of the Red Nation Film Festival headed up by actress/humanitarian Joanelle Romero. The program, screened at the spacious industrial Violet Crown Theater, included The Rise & Fall of the Brown Buffalo from Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro about the radical Chicano lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta.

The other hot ticket was for Woman Walks Ahead with another Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and a conversation afterward with cast and crew. The searing film focused on the relationship between a white artist who seeks out Sitting Bull, played by Michael Greyeyes, to paint his portrait. She becomes involved with the Sioux uprising against the Dawes Treaty to disastrous effect. Real life photos of the Wounded Knee massacre at the end had the audience in tears.

Cast and Crew Of Woman Walk's Ahead

The Railyard District was filled with art and events over the course of the week. The Antique American Indian Art Market held incredible treasures from all across the USA. Silver horse bridles, jewelry, books, clothing and a special exhibit of Navajo Germantown weavings from 1870 to 1900 redefined what modern can be. These colorful rugs and hangings were made possible by trade post exchanges between Germantown, Pennsylvania yarn makers who sent their colored skeins to Navajo country. The bright yellows, reds, purples and greens were new to the desert dwelling Navajo who were only able to produce brown, black and grey colors from their habitat, so the rainbow array created a whole new world of intricate, colorful weavings. The dozens of weavings filled the room, and the immaculate condition and gorgeous colors of the rugs vibrated.

 Santa Fe Railyard District

A large warehouse space in the Railyard District was the site of several farmers markets and artisan shows. The market had bountiful produce from local farms and crafts by local natives. I picked up some horses made from sage bundles and leather stamped bracelets. I sampled some Red Chile Mocha Coffee that was out of this world delicious.

Dark Bird Palace on Canyon Road

A day spent along Canyon Road – the traditional art district - yielded hundreds of spaces filled with new shows and the best that Santa Fe has to offer year round. I particularly liked seeing Floyd Red Crow Westerman’s bronze Sitting Bull sculptures in the VQ Gallery; and the kitschy folk art paintings of animals and chili peppers by Melinda Hall. A brief hail storm in the 85 degree weather was a wild high elevation surprise.

The underground art rebels of NDN MRKT Clearance Outlet took over a basement space off the Plaza to sell their t-shirts, jewelry, stickers and skatedecks by Bethany Yellowtail, Steven Paul Judd and others. A DJ and a bar added to the club like vibe.

Designer Tchin at Seeds market

At the 2 day Indian Market over the weekend, the streets around the Plaza were filled with booths. The crowd was a show in itself with cowboys, Indians, kids and dogs all cruising the streets to see and be seen. On the Plaza stage there was hoop dancing and fashion shows. The booths sponsored meet and greets with actor Wes Studi and gave away bags and sunglasses and stickers. I ducked into the Plaza Café, a long time neighborhood favorite, for a home cooked meal of Huevos Divorciados with red and green chile. A nightcap at the luxe La Fonda hotel found music and elegant crowds hanging out in the beautiful sky lit lobby.

After the busy week I snuck away to the hot springs at Ojo Caliente whose outdoor pools are carved out of the cliff rocks as I made plans to already go back next year.

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