FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — More than 60 artists and performers will travel from across the Navajo Nation for a weekend of cultural immersion at the Museum of Northern Arizona’s 69th annual Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture Aug. 4 and 5.
The festival is an opportunity to share and celebrate, through Navajo traditional and contemporary art, music, dance and food. The public will have the opportunity to purchase silverwork, jewelry, painting, weaving, folk carving, sculpture and more directly from the artists. Artists will be demonstrating their crafts
The festival is one of four Heritage Festivals held at the Museum of Northern Arizona each year and reflects the long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship between the Museum and the Navajo people.
The Navajo Festival began in August 1949 when 15 trading posts on the western portion of the Navajo Reservation submitted their best rugs to the Museum of Northern Arizona to compete for prizes. The Museum’s goal was to align both weavers and traders in keeping alive the old styles of weaving and improving the quality of yarns, dyes and designs. Today, the weekend event draws thousands of visitors from across the region and around the world.
This year the mainstage performers include singer Callie Bennett, blues-rock trio The Platero’s and the traditional Dine Tah Dancers. The Dine Tah Dancers has been touring the country this year to bring attention to the treaty signed between the United States and the Navajo Nation 150th years ago. The dance group leader, Shawn Price, will also give a talk about the Treaty of 1968 as part of the Heritage Insights Lecture Series. That lecture series is supported by Arizona Humanities to provide people with a deeper understanding of Navajo culture and history.
Other talks in the series will touch on the “Extraordinary Women” theme that has run through all the Heritage Festivals this year. Historian Dr. Jennifer Denetdale will describe the legacy of feminism within a matrilineal culture and the importance of empowering indigenous women. Poet and educator Jaclyn Roessell uses collage, collaboration and conversation to engage people in sharing stories connecting identity and place.
Documentary photographer Chip Thomas, aka Jetsonorama, will talk about the Painted Desert Project. This community building effort has created a series of murals across the western Navajo Nation, painted by artists from all over the world. The murals address contemporary social, environmental, and political justice issues deeply impacting the Navajo Nation. Thomas will describe how the project developed, its ongoing dialog with the Navajo people, and what the future may bring.
The festival will also include a memorial to artist Bahe Whitethorne Jr., who passed away in March. A youth artist award is being established in his memory.
A members’ preview, Aug. 3, from 6 to 8 p.m., includes a juried arts award ceremony, silent auction and opportunity to be the first to purchase artwork from participating artists.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is located three miles from historic downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180 leading to the Grand Canyon at 3101 N. Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff, conveniently located on the Mountain Line bus Route 5 and on the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.
Ticket prices are $12 adults, $8 youth, students (with ID), and American Indians; free to museum members and children under 10. Weekend pass is $18 adults, $12 youth, students (with ID), and American Indians.
More information on the 69th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture, including a complete list of schedule performances and participating artists, is available by visiting the musnaz.org. Information is also available by phone at (928) 774-5213.