IndigenousWays Free Festivals -
G Precious and Indigenous dancers.

What can we learn from our ancient ancestors that will benefit us in today’s world? The second annual IndigenousWays Free Festival provides that answer via musical performances, traditional Diné weaving, poetry, and workshops with wisdom keepers at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. Three time United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo headlines the August festival with a performance that includes spoken word and music. Celebrate the beauty and blessings of traditional First People’s ways at the Railyard, with simultaneous, live broadcasts via Zoom and social media on  Friday, August 18, from 5 – 9 p.m.

What is the IndigenousWays Free Festival About?

The theme of this year’s IndigenousWays Free Festival is Gathering, the Native American term for the continuation of Indigenous Wisdom that celebrates community, family, children, elders and each other. IndigenousWays, the Santa Fe-based non-profit that promotes living in balance for diverse communities, is the festival’s host organization. This much-anticipated series of events brings together world-renowned Indigenous musicians, artists and thought leaders to celebrate Indigenous arts, wisdom, and messages of resilience and thriving.

“Our goal,” according to IndigenousWays Artistic Director Tash Terry of the Dine’/Navajo Nation, “is to bring joy, wisdom, and understanding to inspire attendees to celebrate Indigenous cultures and each other.”

The IndigenousWays Free Festival offers amazing concert performers and speakers who embody the cultural arts and wisdom that abounds in Santa Fe. Attendees are invited to dance to the music, participate in sacred talking and writing circles, and to experience storytellers, face painting, meditation, traditional Navajo weaving, music, circus art, art therapy, and more. The festival in particular welcomes deaf and hard of hearing attendees, with musically inclined ASL interpreters who are experts at translating musical performances.

“The festivals break through walls of separation with compassion and love, making room for all,” adds Terry. “It’s thrilling to see attendees of all ages experience the shared commonalities in our many cultures.”

Three-time Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo.

A Gathering of Indigenous Minds

The last event of tthe IndigenousWays Free Festival is not to be missed. Performers and speakers include legendary poet Joy Harjo, an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee Creek Nation, who served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. Grammy Award-winning guitarist and engineer Larry Mitchell, from the Blackfeet Nation, will warm up the crowd with his skillful, mesmerizing guitar work.

Adding to the mix, Queer, Indigenous rocker Katherine Paul, better known as Black Belt Eagle Scout (Swinomish/Iñupiaq) will perform her haunting lyrics and musical style that draws on grunge and tribal drumming roots. And, as if that weren’t enough, rising star Charly Lowry (Lumbee/Tuscarora), a former American idol contestant, will sing and perform some familiar tunes.

In addition to the concerts, attendees can also participate in workshops and activities including circus projects from Wise Fool, face painting by Theresa Montano (Chicana), and Creative Art with Oriana Lee (Black & Queer). Children and adults are also welcomed to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and Indian Sign Language and history taught by Native/Deaf spiritual teacher James Wooden Legs (Deaf Northern Cheyenne).

The People Making the IndigenousWays Free Festival Happen

Sponsors of the festivals include Hutton Broadcasting, the City of Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department, National Endowment of the Arts, McCune Charitable Foundation, RTM, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, National Endowment for the Humanities, New Mexico Arts, Envision Fund, Santa Fe Community Foundation, The Sage Hotel, Concept Hotels, Inn at Santa Fe, Coyote South, Social Kitchen & Bar, Candlestick Hill, Smart Outsider, WESTAF, New Mexico True Community, Sullivan, Field and Smith, Enterprise Bank & Trust, Wise Fool, Cowgirl BBQ, Santa Fe Railyard, Breath of My Heart, IAIA Performing Arts, the Human Rights Alliance and Santa Fe Public Library.

IndigenousWays is a non-profit organization based in Santa Fe which promotes living in balance for diverse communities through music, arts and outreach. IndigenousWays has a core mandate to reach Indigenous & LGBTQIA2S+ communities.

Bring your family, friends and neighbors, a chair or blanket to sit on, and enjoy the offerings by food trucks located on the grounds. For more information, or to register for the IndigenousWays Free Festival, visit the website.

Artwork on display
Artwork by artisan vendors will be available at the IndigenousWays Free Festival. Photo by Willa Shalit.
This article was posted by David Salcido

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