Native American artisans and performers are making their way to the Old Pueblo for this weekend’s Native American Month Social and Craft Market.
Organizer Fred Synder said the yearly event, which has been around for the past three decades, will bring together more than 40 artists from dozens of tribes from around the country to share their art and culture with the people of Southern Arizona.
“Our culture is one of harmonic balance,” said Synder, the director and consultant for National Native American Co-Operative. “We try to share that with other people of different backgrounds.”
Synder said much of his culture is based on the “sacred four”: The four elements and the four peoples all working in harmony. So no matter the color of your skin or your heritage, Snyder said all are welcome.
There will be many different kinds of art on display and for sale such as jewelry, baskets, dolls, instruments and more. In addition, there will be music and dancing shows by master performers including Cecil Manuel, Pima and Apache champion hoop dancer.
Manuel said he enjoys events like the yearly social and craft market because he gets to answer questions about dancing and the culture from which it originates.
“Some of the dances I do are from the Northern and Southern Plains tribes,” Manuel said. “But hoop dancing is international; it seems every culture has the circle or the hoop as a symbol.”
Manuel said this weekend’s event is different from an art show because guests can enjoy different art forms while also learning along the way.
Another noteworthy craftsman with art on display is Ernie Northrup of the Hopi Nation. Northrup said he considers himself a Native renaissance man, with expertise in silversmithing, goldsmithing, doll making, flute making and more. Northrup also spends some of his time passing on his knowledge to the next generation.
“I’ve been doing this all my life, since I could pick up a crayon in kindergarten,” Northrup said. “I tell [kids], ‘Don’t copy me, critique what I teach you and make it your own,’ we call that style.”
Northrup said he knows the knowledge he passes on to the kids will carry on to the generations to come.
“The Hopi way is to teach from grandfather, to father to son—they see me as the grandfather now,” Northrup said. “It’s important that we do this and teach our young because it’s necessary for us to survive.”
The social and market take place every year in November because the month has been recognized as Native American Heritage Month in the United States since 1990. President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution to give recognition to the original peoples of the Americas. To this day, Synder said there is a movement among Native Americans to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. While many states have adopted this concept, Arizona has yet to do the same.
Synder said this weekend’s event can be seen as a more relaxed and laid back option to Black Friday shopping. The event is free and open to the public. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nov. 23, 24 and 25 at the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom at 5151 E. Grant Road.
To learn more about the event go tousaindianinfo.com/press-release.
Chandler Donald is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.