Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Redefining Native Music

    by By Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg festivals and markets intern | Jun 11, 2013

    “We’re hard to describe. The music is reggae and rock; it’s got flutes; it’s got English and traditional vocals, ballads and some heavy stuff. If I had to describe us, it would be as Native music. That’s what it is.” Adrian Wall, May/June 2013 Native Peoples Magazine.

    Less than two weeks until the 21st annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival (June 22 and June 23) and excitement is growing for the  talented musicians who will rock the main stage at Military Park. While researching this year’s performers, I got caught up in the question, “What is Native music?” It’s not an easy question to answer. Today’s Native artists are not defined by any single style – their influences are as varied as the genres you might hear while scanning the radio. Multiply those possibilities by hundreds of different tribal affiliations and add to that the intricacies of each artist’s unique personal history and perspective – and you end up with an incredibly diverse range of music. If you’ve only experienced Native music at powwows, Indian Market is a fantastic place to expand your musical point of view. Each of this summer’s leading acts brings a unique blend of contemporary music artfully combined with traditional Native American influences.


    Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne/Dutch) grew up in a musical family, so it’s small surprise that by the time she hit high school she was performing in a country-rock band and sneaking into clubs to listen to rock ‘n’ roll and blues. Morningsong lists Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash and Old Blues legend Buddy Guy as some of her most important musical influences, but her music is also inspired by her Native roots as well as her personal experiences. Her 2006 debut album Out of the Ashes pays tribute to the Zuni creation story, while also referencing her own life story as a survivor of domestic violence. Ashes and Morningsong’s second album Full Circle feature her soulful lyrics augmented by electric guitar, bass, drums and synthesizer arranged by Grammy Award winning producer Larry Mitchell. Morningsong’s husband Fabian Fontenelle adds traditional percussion, sings in his native Zuni language, and dances for live performances. Morningsong’s most recent album Heart Songs of the Native American Flute was just released this spring and highlights her love for the instrument.

    Catch Morningsong, rocking the Eiteljorg stage with a full band, both days of Indian Market. Performances are at noon and 3pm.  


    Twin Rivers is named for the convergence of musicians and old friends Adrian Wall (Jemez Pueblo/Ojibwe) and Ed Kabotie (Hopi/Santa Clara Pueblo). Wall and Kabotie’s musical collaborations began as middle school metalheads at Santa Fe Indian School. The years took them separate ways, but eight years ago the rivers of their lives flowed back together and the music was soon to follow. The duo’s first independent album, Springs of Guisewa, draws inspiration from traditional Native songs. Kabotie writes their songs in the three languages he speaks: English, Hopi and Tewa. Exploring Native identity is a crucial part of their music. Their sound is also part rock, part reggae, and part jazz – you can hear the familiar reggae offbeat blended with Native flute in their title track, Springs at Kesewa. The way Twin Rivers intertwine these diverse musical influences reflect their philosophy “that we are all distinct, but connected as if we are one. “ Twin Rivers will be joined by Kabotie’s son Rylan at Indian Market this year, as the three continue their work to redefine the Native experience through music.

    Catch Twin Rivers both days of Indian Market. Performances are at 2pm.


    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg festivals and markets intern

    Go comment!

  • Eiteljorg employee makes a difference just by playing the banjo

    by Jordan Stout, Eiteljorg visitor experience assistant | Jun 10, 2013

    This banjo - usually housed in a storage drawer - helped a 9-year-old boy with disabilities celebrate one of his best birthdays ever.

    A little boy came to the Eiteljorg Saturday afternoon. Turned out I knew his favorite songs on the banjo, "Baby Beluga" and "Old Dan Tucker." When I played for him he danced until he burst into tears from laughter. Then when I asked him if he wanted to play he didn't take the pause needed to say yes before picking it up and starting to figure out how. At this latest - his mother froze, looking shocked. I hadn't noticed until then that the boy had limited use of his arms and wrists. His mother never imagined he could do something like play an instrument, but there he was playing away and laughing. So I quickly ran to grab others and an hour later I still couldn't have pried my ukulele away from him if I dared.

    Turned out, Saturday was his birthday. He had just turned nine. He said it was one of his best. He was unhappy to leave the museum but his mother said he and their family had a wonderful experience.

    Happy birthday little dude! Come back to the museum anytime and we'll jam to any song you want.
    The Eiteljorg later received a wonderful email from the boy's mother - grateful about her son's experience and his time with Jordan:

    "...Our family met one of your employees named Jordan Stout. Mr Stout not only wowed us with his musical talents on the banjo and uke but he was patient, informative and kind with my kids, one of which has a disability called Williams Syndrome. My husband and I both agree, meeting Mr Stout and being entertained and educated by him, was definitely the highlight for our family's trip to your museum..."

    Jordan Stout (pictured above) is a visitor experience assistant at the Eiteljorg. He has a deep love for playing music, especially ukulele and banjo. He enjoys the opportunity to play whenever possible for families who visit the Museum's RB Annis Experience located on the Canal level.

    Each Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., children and adults can take free guitar lessons at the Eiteljorg. If you don't own an instrument, no problem. We have 19 guitars and ukekeles from which to choose in our Guitars! corral. And don't forget to check out Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, where more than 100 instruments are on exhibit, including this 2013 Cutaway Tenor Ukulele (loan courtesy of Mya-Moe Ukeleles).


  • The mating advantage of male musicians - Why all guys should play guitar

    by Zach Brown, Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern | Jun 05, 2013

    As a 20-something single guy, I’ve heard the old adage of “chicks dig a man who can sing” plenty of times. But does playing an instrument or musical ability really make a man more attractive to an interested woman? According to a study in France, it actually does, and later on I’ll tell you where to get free guitar lessons and be on your way to winning that lucky lady’s heart.

    In this particular experiment, a 20-year-old man was instructed to approach 300 women on the shopping streets of a medium-sized French city (population roughly 70,000) and ask for their phone number. The man was carrying a guitar case, a sports bag or nothing at all. The study showed that 31 percent of women gave the man their phone number when he was carrying the guitar case, while only 9 percent gave their number when he held the sports bag. When the man was empty-handed, 14 percent complied with his request.

    The conductors of this research hypothesized that the guitar case condition would yield a more favorable response from the women whom the man approached. Their hypothesis was not only supported by the results, but by me as well.

    There are plenty of ways that guys use to capture the heart and attention of lady, whether he’s good with music, sports, animals or kids (kudos to the guy who brought his son on the season premiere of ABC’s The Bachelorette). However, musical ability is special because it exudes a unique combination of confidence, compassion and intellect. In addition, the musician or “rock star” image is appealing because some woman my associate it with wealth and status (

    I know what you might be thinking now: “What about sports guys? They get wealth and status, too!” Indeed they do, but the ability to play guitar lasts longer than the ability to throw a football or dunk a basketball. Athletes may also have the task of dispelling the wildly inaccurate “dumb jock” stereotype, a generalization to which I refuse to subscribe.

    The bottom line is that a music guy may be more likely to make a deep, emotional connection than someone who can’t play a note to save his life (i.e. - Me). According to Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard, ladies see a musician as someone who is potentially willing to practice and work at something. To me, this could mean willingness to put in the effort for a relationship.
    So gentlemen, if you have musical ability, use it. You can thank me later. And to those of you who don’t, never fret (10 Cool Points if you got the guitar pun), there’s still time to learn! You can get guitar lessons from 12-2 p.m., every Saturday during the run of Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, at the Eiteljorg by Benito DiBartoli (pictured here) of the band Black Voodoo. He's an expert player who works with anyone interested in learning. Lessons are free with the price of admission. And the Museum has plenty of extra guitars if you don't have your own! Don’t forget to check out our Guitars: Roundups to Rockers exhibit as well.

    Zach Brown is an Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern and a senior at Ball State University. He is single.

    "Men's Music Ability and Attractiveness to Women in a Real-life Courtship
    Context." Psychology of Music (2013): 1-5. 1 May 2013. 28 May 2013

    Jacobs, Tom. "The Mating Advantage of Male Musicians." Pacific Standard., 6 May 2013. 28 May 2013.

    1 Comment

  • Inside Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival: How artists are selected

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festival and events manager | May 27, 2013
    Indian Market includes an evening opening party and two full days of performances, food, cultural activities and, of course, art sales. We always point out that artists must be Native American and selected into the show, but what exactly does that mean?

    Artist: Darance Chimerica (Hopi)

    Being “Indian”
    Artists have to show a tribal enrollment card or an authorized letter from their tribe to prove they’re Indian. There’s a law. The Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, enforced by the U.S. Department of the Interior, was introduced to protect Indian artists from non-Indians trying to capitalize on their cultures by making it illegal to offer for sale any product that falsely suggests it is Indian produced. Legally, “Indian” is defined as “a member of any federally or state recognized tribe or an individual certified as an Indian artisan by a recognized tribe.” There are uncomfortable gray areas involving historical tribes that are no longer legally recognized. An example close to home is the Miami Indians of Indiana. Simply put, organizations like the Eiteljorg have to follow the law.

    Artist: Judy Tafoya (Santa Clara Pueblo)

    The fun part: artist selection
    Each February, a crack team gathers to review a couple thousand slides representing all of the artists hoping to be selected to Market. The team is made up of Eiteljorg curators, a jury of experts in Native art and the Eiteljorg festivals team (you know, to order coffee and bring snacks). Artwork is judged for craftsmanship and originality. The selectors must assign a score from one to five, without the option of a three. Over the years, I’ve learned so much just listening. Toward the end of the day discussions can get silly, but most offer master-class-level commentary on art, history and cultures. I am lucky to be a fly on that wall.

    Artist: Dallin Maybee (Northern Arapaho/Seneca)

    Math is Hard
    Once the selectors have done their work, I tabulate the scores for each division. We get more submissions in some categories than in others so we use a curve. For example, a higher percentage of jewelry artists apply so they must receive higher scores to be accepted. It’s a very selective process and many great artists don’t make the cut. We encourage those artists to try again.

    Artist: Ernest Benally (Navajo/Diné)

    What comes next?
    We work all year on Market, but once the artist letters go out, the countdown really begins. They keep us on our toes with questions and suggestions. They want the market to be successful and prosperous for themselves and for us. We do everything that we can to make sure they are taken care of. I always say one of my favorite parts of the market is that, although the artists are our guests, the Eiteljorg and the artists come together to host our visitors.

    Don’t miss your chance to meet this year’s selected artists on June 22-23 in Military Park! For more details, visit the festivals and events section of our website.  

    Artist: Marty Gradolf (Winnebago of Nebraska)

    See you there!
    Jaq Nigg
    Eiteljorg festival and events manager

    Go comment!

  • The Fuss Over Fry Bread at Indian Market

    by Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg festivals and markets intern | May 15, 2013

    “It’s one in the morning, and I’m awake, thinking about frybread…”
    – from Frybread Dreams, a poem by Richard Walker

    Frybread picture from -

    If you’ve ever been to any Native American event, you’re probably familiar with fry bread. If you’ve never tasted it, you are truly missing out. Fry bread is just what its name implies… dough that is fried in oil to create a puffy, delicious bread. Fry bread can be a sweet treat or the foundation of “Indian tacos,” topped with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa/chile.

    Images from and


    Every year at Indian Market and Festival, people happily wait in line at the Indian taco truck (rain or shine) for their fry bread fix. It’s so popular; the Eiteljorg staff looks forward to it each year as one of the highlights of the whole event.

    people wait in line at indian market for their frybread fix!

    Most of us agree that fry bread is super tasty. But the fuss over fry bread isn’t just about taste. It’s about history, tradition, survival and love.

    According to Frybread by Jen Miller (Smithsonian Magazine, July 2008), the origins of fry bread date back to 1864 and the Long Walk of the Diné (Navajo), when the U.S. government forcibly relocated thousands of Native Americans from their lands in Arizona to New Mexico. Removed from their traditional sources of food, the Diné had to rely on meager government rations. Many died of starvation. Fry bread was a food of survival, created from a few simple ingredients that the Diné had access to: flour, lard, baking powder, salt, water and powdered milk. For many Native Americans fry bread is a reminder of the conditions their ancestors endured, and how they created something from nothing to live another day.

    Many foods evoke strong feelings and memories, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better example than fry bread. Fry bread fans have created facebook pages, websites, poems, stories and cooking competitions. Most agree that love is a critical ingredient. How else would you turn rations and suffering into a food of survival and celebration?

    Fry bread is loved, but it has also been criticized. In an article in Indian Country Today, Suzan Shown Harjo railed against fry bread for the sorrowful history it represents, for its high calorie count, and for being a poor substitution for many other traditional Native American breads. Despite calories and history, however, Native America is still a strong supporter of fry bread, mockumentary film dedicated to it.

    Either in spite of its difficult history or because of it, the lines in front of the fry bread truck, during the Eiteljorg's Indian Market & Festival June 22 and 23, will continue to form this summer. No Native American gathering would be the same without it. 

    2013 indian market flyer

    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg festival and markets intern

    Go comment!
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