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Arts and crafts show celebrates 35 years

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OHKAY OWINGEH, N.M. – The Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show will celebrate its 35th anniversary in mid-July with a number of special events, while keeping the authentic spirit of this vital arts exhibit and market unique.

This event, believed to be the largest Native-owned and operated outdoor arts exhibition and market in the western United States, will take place July 15 – 16 at the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council’s Arts and Visitors’ Center in Ohkay Owingeh (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo), three miles north of Espanola on N.M. Highway 68 (the road to Taos).

American Indians organize and operate the arts and crafts event, attracting jewelers, potters, sculptors, painters, wood carvers and more to show and sell their work each year. As a New Mexican tradition, the show celebrates the shared cultural heritages of Native people. The show has drawn artists and visitors to New Mexico every July since its inception in 1972.

The arts and crafts show is the most visible of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council’s public programs and its most prominent economic development effort. The council is a collaborative effort among the pueblos of Ohkay Owingeh, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque.

Over the past 35 years, more than 2,000 Native traditional artists have come from all 19 New Mexico pueblos as well as from the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Cherokee, Tlingit, Chippewa and Lakota tribes and nations. Expected at this event are 360 artists and artisans, and a crowd of 20,000 buyers and visitors.

The Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show has been rated the fourth-best festival in the United States by Arthur Frommer, of Budget Travel on MSNBC, just behind Mardi Gras, Tanglewood and the Spoleto Festival. Frommer also recommended visitors turn this event into a destination vacation. He described it as “artisans of eight Native American pueblos converging in a giant fair of crafts demonstrations and sales, traditional dances, Indian foods and authentic rituals … a profound experience for both visitors and artisans.”

This year’s arts and crafts show will include authentic northern pueblo dance presentations throughout the weekend. American Indian dancers, singers and drummers will present an electrifying program of traditional pueblo dances, which may include Buffalo, Deer, Rainbow and Corn dances accompanied by Native drums and singers. Domenic Arquero, of Cochiti Pueblo, will again be this year’s master of ceremonies.

Visitors to the show should bring their appetites, as they will have an opportunity to partake in traditional pueblo foods such as red and green chile, posole, Indian tacos, oven bread, frybread and Indian cookies and pies. As guests savor those treats, they will also be able to relax in two new shaded tented areas.

The Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show has several new additions this year. It will be launched with a fund-raising auction and reception on July 12 at the recently renovated Santa Fe Hilton. Plans are under way for an orientation program and welcoming dinner for the artists. A 35th anniversary exhibit will be curated under the direction of Charles Dailey, director of museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Throughout the course of this year’s event, there will be a number of occasions when the board, staff and volunteers of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council will recognize and honor special artists and individuals who have shaped it into a major artistic and economic development effort.

“This year, the spotlight is on the artists and those who founded the show and have dedicated themselves to this collaborative effort over the past 35 years,” said Carol Guzman, the show’s director.

In conjunction with the show, the Po’Pay Foot Race will be held on July 16. The race includes a 5K run and a 1K children’s/adult race walk.

For more information, visit www.eightnorthernpueblos.com, e-mail enipcartshow@yahoo.com or call (505) 747-1593, ext. 113.

Sponsors include the Ohkay Casino Resort, Pueblo of Tesuque, Rio Arriba County Lodgers Tax Fund, New Mexico Tourism Department – Indian Tourism Division, Pueblo of Santa Clara/Santa Clara Development Corp., Public Service Company of New Mexico, Amerind Risk Management Inc., Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Santa Fe, Los Alamos National Bank, Taos Mountain Casino, Totavi Phillips 66 – Pueblo of San Ildefonso.