The 22nd annual Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art's Indian Market and Festival will fill the grounds of the Military Park with art, music, dance and food this weekend. To find out what makes the event special, we went to the woman responsible for booking the acts, making sure it's a fun day and, yes, lugging around water bottles for volunteers, Jaq Nigg. Nigg, Eiteljorg's festivals and markets manager, took a minute out of her preparations to share what's new at this year's festival -- and what longtime favorites return, too.
- Courtesy Eiteljorg Museum
Hoop Dancer Tony Duncan will perform with live music, as well as provide workshops for kids who want to learn a bit about the art form.
Sky Blue Window: In a nutshell, how would you describe Indian Market and Festival?
Jaq Nigg: It's the Eiteljorg's opportunity to really celebrate Native American cultures by stepping back and hosting artists, musicians, performers an storytellers. It lets us do something really important -- to stress the magnitude of having all these living people come and celebrate their cultures today.
SBW: What can visitors expect to find at the event?
JN: There are 140 visual artists from over 60 tribes. That's a really neat aspect - in school, we kind of learn, well, "Indians are Indians," but there are over 600 tribes in North America. Getting to see so many cultures and what they make, what symbolism they use, is special. There will be jewelers, painters, potters, sculptors, and people who make cultural items like clothing and musical instruments. It's a nice mix of people who make traditional artwork and contemporary artwork -- and my favorite is when they mix those together, doing something traditional in form and methodology but putting a really awesome contemporary design on it. That excites me, because it really shows that these are living cultures.
SBW: You have performers at the event, too, right?
JN: Yes, on the performance side, we have that same juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary work. We have Joanne Shenandoah, a Grammy winner who has performed for Presidents and the Dalai Lama, performing more traditional music. Then there's Scatter Their Own, who describe their music as "AlterNative" -- with a capital 'n.' They just played South by Southwest and are making a play for a more mainstream career. Their sound is more of a straight rock sound, less flute and drums. But lyrically, they get a little political. We also have a hoop dancer, local storyteller Teresa Webb and a drum performance by SouthEastern WaterSpider that's more of a traditional powwow sound.
SBW: Tell us something that all lot of people probably don't know about the Indian Market and Festival.
JN: We're really family friendly. We have a strong family activity area with crafts that aren't just the same old things you would expect. We'll be making abalone pendants with wire wraps. There's a solar graphic activity that relates to our Ansel Adams and Blake Littleei exhibits, and a wood grain art-rubbing activity to go with our George Morrison exhibit. There's a misting tent, for when the kids just want to run through some water. And a Tsimshian portrait mask that everyone can color that was created by one of our visiting artists.
Plus, because admission gets people into the museum and the market, they might be surprised at how fun the Eiteljorg is. I think people can feel a little intimidated by our big stone façade or the idea of a museum, that you have to be quiet and calm. But we have a whole area downstairs for play and running around. People are often surprised to see so much fun and focus and attention on being welcoming to families here.
- Leah Shenandoah / Indigenous Princess
The 140 artists offering their work at the Indian Market represent a wide variety of media, from jewelry and pottery to sculpture and paintings.
SBW: What's a must-see part of the day?
JN: We have a world champion hoop dancer who will be running workshops on both days, Tony Duncan, who will also perform to live music, which is something really special. He'll be teaching kids how to hoop dance. In native cultures, as in a lot of cultures, it's important to pass traditions on and explain why they're important, to get that deeper understanding of it, and to engage in it directly.
We've also added food trucks this year, in addition to our more regular food vendors. So, people can have that walking taco they're used to or grab something new from trucks, including Scratch Truck, Der Preztel Wagon and Mrs. G's Taste of Home.
SBW: You've spent a lot of time and energy on this event -- this year and during the last thirteen years. What's your favorite part of it, once it's actually happening?
JN: I love the interactions that I have with the artists and performers and seeing people have those interactions, too. That's one of the neatest parts of any arts market -- really getting to know people and artists. I know a lot of them really well now, I've been to their homes or had dinners with them, so it's great to see patrons and visitors have that, too. There's a family reunion feeling to the whole thing, once everyone's loaded in and the big thing starts, and I get to live the event. And it's always nice when people get to bring some of the art that our artists make into their homes.
- Jodi Webster
Mixed media artist Jodi Webster is Ho-Chunk and Prairie Band Potawatomi and seeks to “illustrate the clash of the modern world versus our ancestors” in her work.
SBW: What might surprise someone who's never been to the market before?
JN: Sometimes, people think that they don't like what they think of as "Indian art." One of the biggest surprises for a lot of people is that it's not all dreamcatchers and feathers and stoic shirtless men sitting and staring out into the distance. There's a lot of diversity in the art. And some families come thinking "Pocahontas" and then discover the living cultures that exist and how much fun they can have in the experience.
Now, in its 22nd year, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 21 and 22 at Military Park. Discounted advance tickets for the event are $10 and can be purchased at the Eiteljorg Museum and Marsh Supermarkets or by calling (800)622-2024. Tickets during the market are $12 at the gate. Kids 17 and younger are free. Admission to the Eiteljorg is included.