- By Tamara Ikenberg
This weekend and next week, the visual and performing artists of Indian Country will be steamrolling stereotypes, wearing their Native self-expression on their sleeves, and dancing up a storm.
Events include a layered look into Indigenous attire and adornment, a hoop dance extravaganza, a lyrical encounter with powerful female Native American poets, and an exhibit transforming tired Native American stereotypes into clever, cliche-crushing artistic statements.
Let Native News Online’s event round-up guide you through the grandeur of Indian Country in the coming days.
Waging Words: Native Womens’ Voices Through Poetry
WHEN: Sunday, March 26, 4 p.m.
“Waging Words” is a lively and lyrical ode to language, culture, and contemporary Natfve American life.
Presented by Navajo artist and filmmaker Pamela J. Peters and starring poets Kelly Caballero (Tongva), Emily Clarke (Cahuilla) and Rowie Shebala (Navajo), “Waging Words” pays tribute to the talents of the vibrant Indigenous communities of Los Angeles County, which is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the country.
Each poet will discuss issues confronting their communities, as well as the preservation of their cultures.
Dressing for the Creator: Indigenous Art and the Power of Spectacle
WHEN: March 29, 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Online and at Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy and online at ; Event page
Tlingit poet and tattoo artist Nahaan is adamant about the spiritual aspect of skin adornment.
“Cultural tattooing needs to have a way larger presence in our indigenous communities,” Nahaan said in a video on his website. “Tattooing has the potential to heal intergenerationally and empower that sense of purity.
“It’s telling people who you are. It’s visible. It's bold. It’s unapologetically Indigenous.”
Nahaan will share his views on tattoos in a talk titled “Refiguring the Body” during the symposium “Dressing for the Creator: Indigenous Art and the Power of Spectacle” at the Denver Art Museum this weekend.
The symposium focuses on the ways Native people signal their Indigeneity to society at large, the importance of dress and adornment, and how Indigenous artists approach selling their wearable work at art markets while staying respectful to their communities and aesthetic traditions.
Nahaan will be joined by a handful of other acclaimed artists famous for creating unique and unapologetically Indigenous attire and adornments.
Osage and Muscogee artist Anita Fields, a textile designer known for her feathery and flashy traditional Osage wedding attire, is the keynote speaker. Gwich'in fine jewelry designer Tania Larsson, who makes pieces with earthy, natural materials like musk ox horn and fur, will talk about Signaling Indigeneity. Cherokee, Creek and Osage painter and muralist Yatika Starr Fields will tackle the topic Found in Translation.
The World Championship Hoop Dance Contest
WHEN: Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27
WHERE: Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ; Event page and tickets
After a hoop-less 2021, the Heard Museum is welcoming back the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, and all the artistry, athleticism, tradition and suspense that comes with it.
An individual routine can incorporate up to 50 hoops, and competitors often create amazing moving designs such as animals, insects and globes during performances.
Dancers are judged on a slate of five skills: precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativity and speed in one of five divisions:Tiny Tots (age 5 and younger), Youth (6-12), Teen (13-17), Adult (18-39) and Senior (40 and older) for cash prizes totaling $25,000.
The 2020 winners were World Adult Champion Scott Sixkiller-Sinquah (Gila River Pima, Hopi), World Senior Champion Moontee Sinquah (Hopi, Tewa, Choctaw), World Teen Champion:Nedallas Hammill (Diné) and World Youth Champion Kailayne Jensen (Diné).
Savages and Princesses
WHEN: Wednesday, April 6, through Wednesday, May 25
WHERE: The Museum at Warm Springs, 2189, US-26, Warm Springs, OR
From Tiger Lily to Tonto, stereotypes of Native American peoples are part and parcel of American pop and visual culture.
In the new show “Savages and Princess: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes,” a dozen contemporary Native artists explore, question and challenge those misconceptions and reclaim Indigenous identity through paintings, vessels, sculpture, and other pieces rife with humor, irony and honesty.
The work is accompanied and contextualized by information about common stereotypes and the real stories behind the falsehoods.
Participating artists include Tom Farris (Otoe-Missouria), Heidi Bigknife (Shawnee), Juanita Pahdopony (Comanche) Shan Gorshon (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), Micah Wesley (Mvskoke Creek Nation/Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma) and Kira Poole (Caddo-Delaware).
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