'Indigenous Speakers for Positive Change'

At Native American Festival of Arts & Culture July 16-17

FLAGSTAFF -- With the re-emergence of the Native American Festival of Arts & Culture, the Marketplace Weekend (July 16 and 17) marks a time of intercultural communication amongst the local community, local indigenous nations and international visitors. Various representatives from local indigenous communities will gather at Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff to represent the importance of culture and creative change in addressing environmental, political and economic issues that indigenous nations face.

The speakers will present the importance of arts and community in working towards positive change. The two-day event begins on Saturday, July 16, at noon with Yaiva, a young well-known DinŽ/Hopi Hip Hop artist and producer who creates positive high energy music and inspires indigenous youth internationally.

Then, from the Xicano Nahuatl Nation, Tupac Enrique Acosta will present the importance of maintaining spiritual alliance, political solidarity and cultural understanding amongst indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Acosta represents the Nahuacalli- Embassy of Indigenous Peoples, which successfully began official recognition by the city of Phoenix for "Indigenous Peoples Day"(March 11, 2004), an empowering cultural celebration.

Then, Kelvin Long from DinŽ Nation will represent ECHOES (Educating Communities while Healing and Offering Environmental Support). He will discuss the process of empowering native youth and maintaining cultural values and intercultural dialog.

Sunday, July 17, will mark the continuation of this event with Enei Begaye, a young DinŽ/Tohono O'odham grassroots organizer. Begaye is a co-founder and board member of Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Native Movement and a water campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. She will speak on "Sacred Waters and the Politics of Water" and her work with indigenous communities throughout the United States in the protection of water resources.

In addition, Jonah Hill, a young Hopi carver/jeweler, will speak on the use of art as a way to uplift and educate native youth and the general public about the issues surrounding our use of the environment.

The event will culminate with "Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainability and Justice," given by Evon Peter, Chairman of the Native Movement and former Chief of the Neetsaii Gwich'in from Arctic Village in northeastern Alaska. Peter is a well-recognized advocate of indigenous peoples rights, youth and a balanced world. He has worked extensively as a speaker, strategist, writer and organizer.

Coconino Center for the Arts is located at 2300 N. Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff. For more information on the festival, visit www.culturalpartners.org or call 928-779-2300.

(Amy Louis is Flagstaff Cultural Partners Youth Program Coordinator.)

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