Santa Fe Indian Market
Estimated attendance: 85,000-100,000
Highlight: Texans: Sure, we make our share of jokes about parking, 10-gallon hats and pronouncing “Cerrillos” as though it were a disease, but the swarm of Texans at Indian Market can be a colorful crew, or at least some comic relief.
Hazard: Texans: Sometimes jokes are based in reality, and the hordes of tourists rounding the “Square” are never supremely pleasant.
How to explain it to Grandma: There’s traditional stuff that you’ll like, but it’s the nontraditional stuff that you’ll learn to likeno, Grandma, the other Indian.
Indian Market debuted in 1922 as the Indian Fair, an “advocacy” event to “provide a time and a place for Native peoples to sell their wares,” Southwestern Association for Indian Arts spokesman Gabe Gomez says. SWAIA took the reins in the ’30s, and now, according to Gomez, Indian Market is the “largest Native arts gathering in the world,” with nearly 1,200 participants from 150 tribes. Each year, downtown Santa Fe swells with streams of white tents and (mostly white) tourists, who come predominantly from Texas, Arizona and Colorado, as well as collectors who hail from the coasts and even the world over. Traditionally, Indian Market has only included artists from federally recognized US tribes, but this year it also welcomes First Nations people from Canada. This year, SWAIA also helms its own film fest (the Native Cinema Showcase used to be produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution), which will screen at the New Mexico History Museum. Though a majority of Indian Market’s fare includes pottery and jewelry, the event has been widening its scope. “What we’re trying to do is expand the actual market to be representative of more art forms: literature, film, photography, music, etc.,” Gomez says. To that end, Indian Market boasts a powerful contingent of youths who play on or even put aside traditional Native art; I’d strongly recommend seeing what these young artists have to offer.