VERDE VALLEY - With the exception of some limited excavations made during the Great Depression and the designation of two National Monuments, the Verde Valley has little to show for itself when it comes to preserving its ancient culture.
For various reasons, a vast horde of archaeological treasures that once littered the valley floor was carted off to someplace else. And most of what was left was eventually squirreled away in private collections.
It is a problem that many have recognized but few, if any, have done anything about.
That is until Ken Zoll came along. While serving as the president of the Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, Zoll made it his goal to create a repository for area artifacts, as well as a showplace to tell the valley's ancient story.
A realist with a talent for organization, he was well aware that such institutions do not come free.
And so he founded the first Festival of Native American Culture in 2009.
Begun as a fund-raiser for the chapter, the festival, which takes place between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4, has now been passed off to the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, the very institution Zoll envisioned years ago and which became a reality in May 2011.
"The money the event brought in the first two years turned out to be just what we needed to seed the center and get the doors open," says Zoll, "We are now hoping the festival will help fund the many projects the center will involve itself with over the next few years."
Now in its third year, the festival brings together a combination of Native American music, dance, artistry and film, intended to deepen the public's appreciation for those who have called the North American continent home for thousands of years.
This year the festival received an enormous boost toward that goal when the owners of Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona donated their facility for the festival.
"We saw it as an opportunity to help a great cause and for the public to experience first hand some of the finest Native American artists, dancers and musicians in the country, in one place," says Tlaquepaque co-owner Wendy Lippman
Tlaquepaque will be host to the centerpiece of the festival, the two-day Native American Invitational Art Show, featuring over two dozen of the nation's best Native American artists, most with Southwestern tribal affiliations.
In addition, two stages will provide visitors to the art show with performances by several award-wining groups of traditional and non-traditional singers, dancers and musicians.
Included in the line up will be the 2011 World Champion Hoop Dancer and a visit by Miss Indian World.
The Yavapai-Apache Nation will also present its digital storytelling project, which captures the memories of their collective past through their own eyes and in their own voices.
"Cave of Forgotten Dreams," a film about Chauvet caves in Southern France and directed by Werner Herzog, will be shown at the Sedona Creative Life Center on Oct. 16 p.m.
French pastries and beverages, as well as a silent auction, will accompany the showing of the film.
The film will also be shown in Camp Verde on Oct. 2 at the CVUSD Multi-Use Center. In addition, the festival will host an evening of film in conjunction with the Sedona International Film Festival, between 4 and 7 p.m. at Harkins Theater in Sedona on Oct. 4
In On Oct. 3-4, VVAC will sponsor a limited number of archaeological hikes to two ancient pueblo sites owned by the Archaeological Conservancy.
Specific information on Festival of Native American Culture events and tickets is available at www.NAFestival.org, or by calling (928) 284-4764.