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  • 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



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  • 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 - mountainhomequilts.blogspot.com

    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 chibbqking.blogspot.com and cookingclassy.com

     

    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

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