Intertribal cultural center to be built at Phoenix Indian Boarding School site

“Red Tuxedo” honors Indian artists, raises funds for NACC

PHOENIX–Acclaimed Native American artists Lloyd Kiva New, Cherokee, and Charles Loloma, Hopi, were honored for their achievements in a gala event held on Thursday, March 1 at Phoenix’s famed Arizona Biltmore to raise funds to build Arizona’s first intertribal cultural and tourism center in Phoenix.

Mistress of Ceremonies Mary Kim Titla, San Carlos Apache, reporter at Phoenix television station KPNX, oversaw an evening highlighted by the artists’ honors, entertainment by Clan/destine, and both silent and live auctions of Indian art, travel packages and events.

The Native American Cultural Center (NACC) will rise from the debris of the former Phoenix Indian Boarding School to become a ‘one-stop’ center for visitors eager to learn about Arizona’s rich Indian cultures. NACC will also feature living Indian cultures, spurning the old “museum Indian” stereotype, say officials of the Arizona American Indian Tourism Association (AAITA), which co-hosted Thursday evening’s event. AAITA is raising $2 million to renovate the interior of the dining hall at Phoenix Indian School in a deal struck with the City of Phoenix. Event organizers hoped to raise $100,000.

Marc Garcia, multicultural coordinator for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said that 400 attendees paid $150 each to hear Kiva New, Loloma’s niece Berma, an artist in her own right, and special guest Fritz Scholder, Luiseno, speak of their passion for art, culture and tribal heritage.

Scholder told the audience that Loloma, his longtime friend was the epitome of the Indian artist. “Charles Loloma had great personal integrity that no one will ever forget,” he noted. Scholder also lauded Kiva New, saying, “Lloyd Kiva New has changed Native American art forever” with the establishment of the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Kiva New regaled attendees with the tale of how he turned a two-acre alfalfa field in Scottsdale into an Indian art gallery with the help of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

“Wright offered to design the building, but I didn’t think I could afford him.” One day, Kiva New recounted, Wright showed up in a Lincoln Continental and asked him what he wanted in a building. The gallery led to the idea of IAIA, to train up new generations and develop new ideas, said Kiva New.

“Charles became successful by translating the oldest beauty of Hopi culture to the concepts of youth and innovation,” Kiva New said. “Sixty-three years ago, when Charles was 17 and I was 22, I started teaching him. Recently, I drove past [the school grounds] and was saddened to see leveled spaces, but I was happy to see the dining hall still intact. NACC will honor Indians of the state of Arizona.”

The Red Tuxedo, displayed prominently on the stage, was designed by Kiva New for Loloma. “Charles used to wear a black tux” to special events, noted Kiva New. “‘What? A Hopi wearing black?’” So Kiva New worked to craft an “appropriate” tuxedo from the colors of Loloma’s native land for Loloma to wear. Loloma’s widow will send the tuxedo to be displayed at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, said Joan Timeche, Hopi, executive director of AAITA.

Ronnie Lupe, former chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT), one of the event’s major sponsors, said, “If you could listen to the walls, you could hear the story of the tribes.”

AAITA treasurer Tandy Young emphasized that Red Tuxedo is only another step in AAITA’s effort to build NACC; other efforts include the sale of special Christmas ornaments, Indian Comedy Nites and donations. Even if projected results prove true, AAITA will have only 12 percent of the necessary funding.

For more information on AAITA’s efforts, go to GOTOBUTTON BM_1_, or call (480) 315-8187.


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