Festival of Native American Culture debuts around Verde Valley

The Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society produces the first Festival of Native American Culture to be held from June 5-13.

The Festival is designed to encourage a greater understanding of our land's indigenous peoples, and to preserve their cultural heritage in the Verde Valley. The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a report in 2008 that identified threats to several cultural heritage sites in National Forests throughout the country due to reduced Federal funding (www.preservationnation.org). Chapter President Ken Zoll stated that "proceeds from this nonprofit event will be dedicated to the protection, preservation and interpretation of the

Native American cultural heritage sites of Sedona and the Verde Valley for current and future area residents and as part of a broader heritage tourism and education effort."

The Festival, in association with the Sedona International Film Festival, begins with a Native American Film Festival featuring documentaries, fiction and music videos by Native American filmmakers. The Yavapai-Apache Nation will be showing videos from their digital storytelling project before each featured film. A unique Dinner Theatre experience will feature dinner and films in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Poco Diablo Resort on June 6, with an opportunity to meet some of the filmmakers. The film festival will also include a day of Latin American films by indigenous people of Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia. The Native American Producers Alliance will end the film festival on June 9 with a panel discussion and media screenings.

A Native American Invitational Art Show will be held on June 6 and 7 at the Tequa Plaza in the Village of Oak Creek. This invitational show will feature Native American artists with Southwestern tribal affiliations whose marks are on record with the Arizona State Museum.

This will ensure attendees of high quality and authentic Native American works of art. Native American art will also be shown and demonstrated during the entire Festival at participating galleries and shops.

Native American Cultural Awareness Week, beginning June 8, will be filled with special archaeology tours, cultural discussions, entertainment, art events and exhibits. The Yavapai-Apache Nation will unveil a special exhibition developed for the Festival entitled "Honoring Woman's Work: Traditional Camp Dresses of Yavapai & Apache Women." The Festival will also be host to the first Conference on Archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest at the Lodge at Cliff Castle in Camp Verde. This conference will offer workshops for professional and avocational archaeoastronomers, an awards banquet and a full-day of presentations on the astronomical practices of the prehistoric Native American cultures of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

The Festival will end with a Celebration of Native American Music and Dance that will include a full-day of free music and dance events on June 13 throughout the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village in Sedona.

A variety of business sponsorship opportunities exist at various levels. Likewise, marketing opportunities with the use of the Festival's trademarked logo are available.

The Festival has the active support of the Chambers of Commerce of Sedona, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Jerome, Camp Verde and the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council.

For more information, contact Ken Zoll at (928) 284-1228 or archaeology@esedona.net.

Details of the Festival events, to be held at venues throughout the Sedona/Verde Valley area, are available at www.festivalofnativeamericanculture.org.

Invitational Art Show

A Native American Invitational Art Show will be held on June 6 and 7 at the Tequa Plaza in the Village of Oak Crek (VOC) with Native American musicians and dancers.

This invitational show features several Native American artists who exhibit each year at the Heard Museum Indian Market. These include Gerry Quotskuyva (Hopi Katsina carver), Black Eagle (Shoshone tribal arts), Duane Tawahongva (Hopi jeweler), Carolyn Concho (Acoma Pueblo potter), Evelyn Fredericks (Hopi sculptor), Melissa Melero (Paiute painter), Mark Stevens (Laguna Pueblo jeweler), Duane Maktima (Hopi/Laguna jeweler) and Vincent Kaydahzinne (Mescalero Apache sculptor).

Celebrating music and dance

At the end of the festival is Celebration of Native American Music and Dance.

On Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m., Canyon Records recording artist Gabriel Ayala will perform in concert at St. John Vianney Church, Sedona. Tickets are $20. Gabriel Ayala is a member of the Yaqui people of southern Arizona. He performs regularly throughout the United States and has appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Arts and the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian. His is a versatile program of traditional stories and singing with the intermixing of Classical, Tango, Flamenco and Contemporary guitar. His first CD, Gabriel Ayala, was nominated for a Native American Music Award for Best Independent Recording.

On Saturday, June 13, the Tlaquepaque Arts & Craft Village will host the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers and Aaron White and Burning Sky for free concerts from 10:30 to 4. The Yellow Bird Indian Dancers present a repertoire of authentic Apache, Southwest and Northern Plains Dances which are colorful yet educational. From the exciting Hoop Dance to the beautiful Apache Rainbow Dance, their dancing is enhanced by native sign language and enchanting flute music.

Grammy-nominated Aaron White has been making music for 17 years and has toured for many years. The music Aaron White creates has been used in Indie films and documentaries for PBS, Commercials and Radio. The mixture of acoustic guitar and Native American flute has been Aaron's specialty for 15 years and counting. He received a Grammy nomination for his work with Burning Sky for their CD Spirits in the Wind.

An Evening of Native Dance will close the Festival on June 13 at 7 p.m. in the Sedona Hilton Tequa Ballroom. Tickets are $25.

The Halau Hula Napua-okalei'ilima troupe will perform Hawaiian dances as performed for the Heard Museum's 50th Anniversary Celebration. They will be followed by the internationally-known Dancing Earth, a collective of performance artists representing the First Nations who create experimental yet elemental dances that reflect their rich cultural heritage to explore their identity as contemporary Native peoples.

Native American Film Festival

Friday, June 5, at 7 p.m., in the Clarkdale Memorial Clubhouse, will feature Turquoise Rose from the award winning Holt Hamilton Productions. The young and charming Turquoise Roanhorse turns down a once in a lifetime trip to Europe with her best friend. This choice chases her back to the reservation where she finds herself taking care of her ailing grandmother and in the process falls in love with a rez boy. The beauty of the people and the land combine to make this film a memorable journey that will find its way into your heart.

This feature will be preceded by A Gift From Talking God: The Story of the Navajo Churro, a documentary describing the near extinction of the Churro sheep and how it was brought back to become a vital part of the Navajo cultural life and rug-making activities.

The Radisson Poco Diablo Resort will host a Dinner Theatre on Saturday, June 6, at 6 p.m., with special guest Michael Blake, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and author of "Dances With Wolves." He will show and discuss his film The American West: On The Road With Michael Blake. Directed by Emmy Award-winner John Carver, Michael Blake embarks on a road trip through the American West exploring historic battle sites and places of conflict between Whites and Indians. Through the unique lens of this impassioned storyteller, viewers gain a fresh look at the people, events and landscapes that shaped our country. Tickets are $75, which includes dinner, entertainment and the film.

On Sunday, June 7, the Film Festival moves to the Harkins Theatre in Sedona for two shows.

The 6:30 p.m. show will feature the Canadian Inuit film Before Tomorrow. This film, set in 1840, is the story of an Inuit woman who demonstrates that human dignity is at the core of life from beginning to end, as she faces with her grandson the ultimate challenge of survival. The film was shot in remote locations near the community of Puvirnituq, Nunavik (northern Quebec) over four separate periods in order to capture the seasons from June through December. The film is in the Inuit language with English subtitles.

It will be preceded by Sandpainting Healing with Walking Thunder. Traditional Navajo medicine woman, Walking Thunder, tells her life story and describes her healing methods using native plants, sand paintings, and other medicinal ways.

The 9 p.m. show will bring back two highly popular films from the Sedona International Film Festival earlier this year. American Outrage is the story of Carrie and Mary Dann, feisty elderly Western Shoshone sisters who live and ranch in north central Nevada. In 1974, the U.S. sued them for trespassing on U.S. public land without a permit. Their dispute swept to the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually to the United Nations. Contrasting the Dann's personal lives and political actions, the film examines why the United States would spend millions prosecuting two elderly women grazing a few hundred horses and cows.

This will be preceded by CHE AH CHI: The History of Boynton Canyon. CHE AH CHI, the Apache name for a mysterious red rock canyon near Sedona, a place of ancient stories. The film features interviews with tribal elders who reveal stories usually reserved for their own storytelling circles. The elders offer deep insights into their respective cultures, detailing the sorrow of forced removal from their homelands, and demonstrating a cultural wisdom able to embrace all those that can respect the sacred canyon.

The Film Festival continues on Monday and Tuesday at the Canyon Moon Theatre in The Village (VOC), with two unique events never before held in Arizona. Monday, June 8, will feature films by indigenous filmmakers from Latin America. The 3 p.m. matinee features El Page Juicio a Pascual Pichún (The Trial of Pascual Pichún) from Chile. This documentary follows events of what seemed to be a simple dispute between neighbors that turned into a clash between two cultures. From Bolivia comes the music video Los Ricos (The Rich) of Afro-Bolivian youth from several communities expressing their vivacity and happiness through music and dance but at the same time showing the disparity between poor and rich. From Ecuador, Oro de Baltazar (Baltazar's Gold) is a documentary that follows Baltasar Ushca, an indigenous Puruha from the province of Chimborazo in Ecuador. At the age of 64 he continues the tradition of cutting ice from the High Andes to bring to the lowland towns and villages. The tradition is dying because of extreme work conditions which have caused the deaths of many of his companions. Baltasar is the last of his generation.

The 7 p.m. show will feature Ti TslaaJ Xtalb'Al-El Cuento de la Democracia (The Story of Democracy) from Guatemala. This documentary shows life in the villages, work on the plantations, the war and arrival of democracy in Guatemala with the signing of peace protocols. This archive rich documentary records the political history and the present conditions in the village of Maya Mam, Guatemala. This film is followed by two films from Bolivia. Ceremonia de Investidura Evo Morales en Tiwanaku (Coronation of Evo Morales at Tiwanaku) follows the investiture of Evo Morales, the first indigenous President of Bolivia, in 2006, at the ancient Incan city of Tiwanuku. The cameras follow the ceremony up to but not into the sacred places where the investiture occurs. This program offers a glimpse of the ancient powers invoked by the President on behalf of his people and his country. Humillados Y Ofendidos (Humiliated and Offended) is a documentary reporting the attacks on indigenous farm workers in Sucre, Bolivia, in 2008. Several attempts were made to suppress the documentary, which utilizes news footage, interviews and commentary to report on the unprovoked attacks. This program reveals the unrest in the country since the inauguration of President Evo Morales.

The Film Festival concludes on Tuesday, June 9, at 7 p.m. with a series of short subjects by members of the Native American Producers Alliance.

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