2nd Annual Festival of the Americas Celebrates Rich Heritage of Indigenous Art and Culture – St George News

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Painter and Muralist David John at Festival of the Americas, Ivins, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Kayenta Arts Foundation, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Against a backdrop of red rock that was once the ancestral home of the Paiute people, the second annual Festival of the Americas celebrates the depth and richness of early Indigenous cultures.

Artist Randy Dukepoo at Festival of the Americas, Ivins, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Kayenta Arts Foundation, St. George News

The festival will be held from May 13 to 15 at the Kayenta Art Village and is free. Surrounded by the warmth of the Kayenta community, participants are encouraged to deepen their understanding of Native American cultures and customs.

The three-day outdoor festival, presented by the Kayenta Arts Foundation, will feature an array of art forms. This year’s event welcomes over 30 artisans from a wide geographic area encompassing the western states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California as well as Mexico. The work presented includes ceramics, sculpture, basketry, jewelry, painting, metal, wood and fiber.

“The talent is just off the charts,” said festival director Todd Prince. “It’s an enriching experience.”

In addition to stalls, the festival features live demonstrations and performances. Feather Robinson, an instructor at Dixie State University of Blackfeet descends, will present on traditional medicine and the use of native plants on Friday and share traditional stories on Saturday. Meredith Schramm, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, will perform hoop, fantasy and jingle dances with commentary on their origins and meaning on both days.

On Friday, LeAnn Jake-Shearer of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe will host a discussion on the evolution of Paiute clothing and the uses of the yucca plant. On Saturday, Ray Elam will demonstrate flint knapping and traditional weapons used by his Cherokee ancestors as well as other tribes.

Mariah Gladstone, Indigenous Foods Chef and Founder of Indigikitchen, at Festival of the Americas, Ivins, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Kayenta Arts Foundation, St. George News

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Demonstrations and performances will be scheduled throughout the day at various locations throughout the Kayenta Art Village, along with two special indoor ticketed events.

Friday night’s opening ceremony will be led by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. This celebration features historical information about the local tribes, the powwow and its restoration, as well as youth dances, flute and drum performances, and a community circle dance. Descendants of the first inhabitants of the Great Basin, the Paiute have a long tradition of music, song and dance.

Blending contemporary music with flute, drums and vocals for a fulfilling sonic experience, the Adrian Wall Trio will perform on Saturday nights. Wall is an award-winning musician, producer and visual artist from New Mexico and a member of Pueblo de Jemez who uses music as a platform to express his cultural identity.

Opening ceremony tickets are $10 per person and admission to the Adrian Wall Trio concert is $10 for students and children or $30 for adults.

Pottery from the village of Mata Ortiz, Mexico, at the Festival of the Americas, Ivins, Utah, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Kayenta Arts Foundation, St. George News

The festival promotes collaboration among the diverse cultural groups of the Southwest while providing opportunities for Aboriginal artisans to share their talents and products with locals and visitors. Additionally, all proceeds support the Festival of the Americas Scholarship Fund administered by the Kayenta Arts Foundation. Each artisan donated an original work of art to a silent auction that will help raise money for the fund.

Any Native American student residing in Utah can apply for a partial scholarship to help fund higher education at a school in the state. More than $4,000 in scholarships were awarded as a result of last year’s event, and organizers hope to increase that amount as the festival grows in popularity.

“Promoting secondary education for Native American students will create lifelong success for students, their families and their community,” Prince said.

Learn more about the festival and buy tickets for indoor performances here.

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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Event details

  • What: Festival of the Americas.
  • When: Friday and Saturday, May 13-14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Kayenta Art Village, 881 Coyote Gulch Court, Ivins.
  • Tickets: Free (festival); $10 (opening ceremony); $30 (concert by Adrian Wall Trio).
  • Resources: Website.

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