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Santa Fe Indian Market Keeps Native Culture Thriving

By James Dellamano

Every August the Central Plaza in Santa Fe morphs into the Santa Fe Indian Market. Arts, cultural fairs, and wares for sale are a part of the market and its celebration of Native American culture. PR and marketing director Amanda Crocker answered some questions about the market.

How would you describe your arts show?

The Santa Fe Indian Market is the largest and most prestigious Native American art market in the world. It has existed, in various forms, since 1922 in downtown Santa Fe. Today, it covers 17 city blocks and features over 700 individual booths with 1,000 Native artists from around the country and Canada selling their art over one weekend in August. A juried competition opens the event, where artists submit their best work and compete to win ribbons and prize money in the following categories: Jewelry, Pottery, Paintings/Drawings/Photography, Pueblo Wooden Carvings (also known as Kachinas), Sculpture, Textiles, Diverse Arts, Beadwork/Quillwork, Basketry and Youth. The Market attracts some 100,000-130,000 visitors and has a massive economic impact on the City of Santa Fe, State of New Mexico and for individual artists; some of them make 33-50 percent of their annual income on this single weekend.

What are some things that visitors would learn about Native American art and culture?

Native culture is a confluence. It is fed from internal and external worlds that intermingle and eventually erupt in creative practice. The Indian Market is a direct reflection of the lives of Native people and the communities they represent; their artwork is the universal language. Visitors will be exposed to highly traditional art forms, created by individuals with long family histories of expression through their craft. In addition, however, Market-goers will be exposed to cutting-edge "pop" art, including political and protest pieces, which represent and celebrate living, breathing and evolving communities. Quality and authenticity are guaranteed at Indian Market, as it is a 100-percent juried show and features only enrolled members of federally recognized US tribes or Canadian First Nations.

What else would you like to convey to the public about what you do? What do you enjoy about your job?

My job is incredibly rich and complex, if not overwhelming. I have the honor of working with hundreds of first-rate artists whose work is stunningly diverse. My favorite part of my job is during the application process in the Winter; I love seeing what the artists have been working on. It is especially fulfilling when we, as a staff, get to do outreach into remote communities such as the Pueblos of New Mexico. Hearing the artists' stories, seeing their work as they carefully unwrap it for is humbling to be around such talent.

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