Totah Festival & Indian Market

9/20/2021

The 32nd annual Totah Festival & Indian Market returned to the Civic Center over the Labor Day weekend after a one-year absence. Because of the continuing pandemic, it was scaled back, but with 54 artist booths, native dancers and comedians, the event was well-attended. By Donna K. Hewett. Sponsored by SunRay Park and Casino and CMIT Solutions.

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Folks masked up for the 32nd Annual Totah Festival and Indian Market at the Civic Center in Farmington over the Labor Day weekend. The usual three day event was scaled back to two because of the continuing pandemic. But with 54 artist booths, the Navajo Rug Auction, performances of native dancers and comedians, there was plenty of lively attractions to satisfy. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Sunray Park & Casino and CMIT Solutions. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. One of the festival's highlights is the Navajo Rug Auction held every year. Representatives from trading posts throughout the region submit rugs, as do individual weavers.

They're from all over, all different kinds of styles, we have Burntwaters we have Teec Nos Pos, we have Two Grey Hills. We cover kind of all the main, historic styles and even some that don't fit a category. And we have rugs that are from weavers as young as 7 up to weavers that are 90.

A contest for the official commemorative poster of the festival is a way the Totah Foundation recognizes and rewards talented painters. This year's winner Beverly Blacksheep entitled her painting "Golden Days and Silver Linings"

And it's, a painting I did in response to the severe drought, that we have on out on the reservation, especially in the central part of Arizona, near Chinle, that's where I'm from. And as a child I remember how the grass used to grow up to your knees, and so that this new, the monsoons finally showed up and the grass is finally growing, but I don't know if we'll ever see the grass grow as high as your knees again, but, I'm hoping and I'm thinking that someday, will, things will get better. Not only for that, but also for the world, you know with all the things that are happening right now with the pandemic. So, I'm hoping that this kind of makes people feel good.

Sculptor, Tim Washburn works with stone and considers the festival an appreciated break from the usual grind.

Yeah, these are original sculptures here, I've got, like I say, one piece I'm working on here. This is black Belgian marble, and we get these stones from all over the world, and this is a small piece I'm working on right now, two horses, and I have a lot of sanding that I've got to do on this piece.

Some of the artwork on display shifts from traditional styles, to contemporary, but paintings like Venaya Yazzie's still tell a long established narrative.

It's centered around women in the Southwest because my heritage Navajo and Hopi, so I depict mostly Navajo women, and then Hopi women in their cultural adornment. So that includes, their garments, their hairstyle, and their jewelry. And what I do is, I parallel that against landscapes, because in the Navajo culture the land is referred to as female, and so a lot of times I'll put, you know, in my images the woman figure and then, you know, water and land, and then the sky, so I feel like they compliment each other.

In the midst of the continuing pandemic, multi media artist, Ronald Chee, says Native art is an imperative.

You know the art, art is essential, art is alive, and the Native Indigenous art is critical to the culture, and also to the livelyhood of the artist, and so it's good to be out and see everybody.

Considered collectors items, the 2021 Totah Festival poster, along with the ones from prior years, can be purchased for $25.00 at the Farmington Museum's giftshop. For more information, go to totahfestival.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the local news network, I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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