- By Tamara Ikenberg
This weekend and next week, Indian Country is buzzing with a must-see mix of events melding the modern and traditional.
Among your choices are witnessing a purveyor of edgy Pueblo pottery work his magic, feeling the uplifting musical messages of a hip hop hero in a headdress, or absorbing the artistic expressions of Native California artists reclaiming their natural and cultural connections with the Golden State.
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Take a moment to check out Native News Online’s event guide to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Forest County Potawatomi Keno Ma Ge Wen Powwow
WHEN: Friday, Aug. 6, Grand Entry 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 7, Grand Entry 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 8, Grand Entry 12 p.m.
WHERE: Ka Kew Se Gathering Ground, Carter, WI; Powwows.com event page
A woodland wonderland of a celebration, the 27th Annual Forest County Potawatomi Meno Keno Ma Ge Wen Pow Wow will be a thrilling three-day display of dancing, drumming and singing.
The Woodland World Championship Special is a highlight of the Powwow, which will be emceed by MC Vince Beyl (White Earth Band of Ojibwe), and also features competitions including a Bells Only Special, Men vs. Women Side Step Special, Head Veteran Special and a hand drum contest.
The Powwow’s head dancers are Iliana Montoya (Saginaw Chippewa) and Marquel Crawford (Ojibwe/Dakota).
The beat will go on throughout the Powwow, with drum groups including host drum Young Spirit Singers, co-host drum Fire Nation Singers, and invited drums Smokey Town Singers, Midnite Express Singers, WhiteTail Boyz, Red Willow Singers and Bad River Singers.
Supaman Live at the Eiteljorg Museum
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 7, 3 p.m. PDT
WHERE: Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN. Tickets are $20. Purchase here.
With his power to blend Native culture, comedy and hip-hop into messages of hope, pride and resilience, Apsáalooke artist Christian Takes Gun Parrish has transformed himself into Supaman.
The rapper, dancer, activist and viral social media sensation who resides on Montana’s Crow Reservation and recently released the album Medicine Bundle, will swoop onto the stage at the Eiteljorg Museum this Saturday for one of his invigorating performances.
Supaman’s performance is part of The Eiteljorg exhibition Laughter and Resilience: Humor in Native American Art, which explores expressions of Indigenous humor in all its incarnations, and shows how looking at life’s challenges with levity is essential to Native American culture and endurance.
Native Pottery Demonstration Series with Jeff Suina
WHEN: Wednesday, August 11, 9 a.m. PDT
WHERE: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Zoom; Register here
Cochiti Pueblo artist Jeff Suina’s work is pottery poetry in motion.
His fluid, geometric takes on traditional Pueblo pottery seem as if they could shift shape at any moment, revealing a portal to another art world.
Crystals, clouds, plant life, sci-fi, quantum mechanics, and Suina’s digital design and 3D animation skills all play into his pottery, which he molds into whimsically, seemingly foldable forms from origami birds about to take flight, to what look like enchanted Chinese takeout boxes
Next Wednesday, Suina, who also creates more traditional Cochiti pottery, will offer a glimpse into his mind and process during the Native Pottery Demonstration Series, hosted by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
“I'm planning to do a geometric piece because that seems to be getting a lot of attention these days,” Suina, who is also Creative Director at civil engineering firm Bohannon Huston, told Native News Online. “I'm taking it from a ball of wet clay and I’ll build it from the ground up.”
The observers won’t be the only ones surprised by the result.
“When I'm creating these geometric pieces I don't even know how they're going to turn out,” Suina said. “I just start with a base and it sort of takes on a life of its own.”
When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California
WHEN: Through Sunday, Nov. 14
WHERE: Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA
For generation-defining Nomtipom Wintu artist and scholar Frank LaPena, the link between Indigenous art and survival was not an abstract notion.
“I believe that art is one answer to preventing the emptiness that the loss of culture or the indifference of society will impose,” reads a quote from LaPena, an art writer, curator, poet and professor at Sacramento State University, on the Autry Museum of the American West website. “We are still alive.”
That philosophy permeates the current Autry Museum exhibition When I Remember I See Red, which was conceived by LaPena, who passed away in 2019.
Featuring the work of LaPena and a host of Native American artists expressing resistance and renewal the exhibit focuses on the experiences of the Native people of Callifornia, and explores identity, interconnectedness, inspiration and genocide.
Dedicated to LaPena, When I Remember I See Red, includes a section devoted to his art, called “The World is a Gift: Remembering Frank LaPena.” The featured work ranges from haunting to majestic. The lithograph set ”History of California Indians,” depicts Natives with mouths sewn shut and superimposed text about massacres, while “North Mountain,” is a glorious, mystical landscape of Mount Shasta, drawing attention to the pivotal, ancient relationship the Indigenous people of California have with the landmark.
Other featured artists include Chemehuevi photographer Cara Romero, whose portrait of modern Northern Chumash woman “Naomi,” against a shocking hot pink background powerfully and stylishly reclaims Indigenous California regalia and symbols and Cahuilla artist Gerald Clarke Jr., whose large scale piece “Continuum Basket,” constructed from hundreds of crushed soda and beer cans, is a comment on the scourge of diabetes and alcoholism in Native communities brought on by colonization.
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