American Indian ArtsFest


The 4th annual American Indian Cultural Artsfest was held at Aztec Ruins National Monument in late July. Painters, potters, weavers and jewelers came from various Southwest nations, including the ancient Pueblo Acoma in mid-western New Mexico, to sell their work and share their techniques. By Donna K. Hewett. Sponsored by SunRay Park and Casino and Three Rivers Brewery

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Aztec Ruins National Monument recently hosted its fourth annual American Indian Cultural Arts Fest. Free to the public, it took place in the nicely shaded picnic area of the park where jewelers, potters, painters and weavers demonstrated their techniques while selling their traditional and contemporary creations. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by SunRay Park & Casino and Three Rivers Brewery. Head Park Ranger, Nathan Hatfield said 20 or so artists come every year from various Southwest nations, including Zuni, Hopi and Laguna. The performing artists, the Pueblo Enchantment Dancers, come from Acoma Pueblo, a national historic landmark, 60 miles west of Albuquerque. Believed to be the oldest, continuously inhabited community in the Untied States, Acoma Pueblo is the home of potter Lee Vallo. He paints designs with a yucca leaf, using hematite and spinach juice for the color black.

Yes, it's going to be all painted with lines. It's called the rain design, so. So... of course us Natives, we're always praying for rain, so.

Eugene Joe is a Navajo from Ship Rock. He works with sand, but is not a traditional sand painter.

Well I'm a sand artist. I'm not a sand painter. Sand painting is more like traditional, which is done in a hogan, for sick patients, sick people. They're done in traditional rights in a hogan. We changed it to an art form. I do mine, I call it "Contemporary Sand Art". So I teach that also in schools.

After Joe collects colored rocks from the desert, he grounds the pieces with an old fashioned meat grinder.

These are the natural colored sand that you can find in the surrounding area of the Navajo Reservation. We just work with this natural colored sand.

Master weaver, textile and fiber artist Roy Kady lives and raises his Navajo sheep in Goat Springs, outside of Tees Nos Pos in Arizona. His wool is hand processed and hand spun. He dyes it with local vegetation. This one here is, uh, lupine and then the one back here is, uh, coming from rubber plant. So they're all varied and I have some indigo up front. Some sage up here. Some red cabbage and then a lot of indigo on this side. And then some of these are just the natural colors from the sheep. Randy Dukepoo is a Hopi from First Mesa, Arizona. He's working on a pot of his Navajo wife's design to keep her artwork alive. She suffered a major stroke three years ago. Her father was a medicine man who gave her permission to use the symbols on the pot.

Well, these represent, in my wife's ways, this line is the father, that's the mother and all the dots are children and grandchildren they're working their way up in the light, trying to do their best and this is the ups and downs of life that we go through. And then the eagle feathers, those are prayer feathers for guidance and protection and all the little dots are stars. The teepee with the fire burning inside is for ceremonials and that's the gods that are watching over us.

The American Indian Arts Fest is made possible with help from the Chaco Culture Conservative, a non-profit organization that supports education, interpretation and funding for the Aztec National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park. To donate or volunteer, go to Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network.


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