Monday, August 16, 2010

August Getaway Itinerary - Gallup Ceremonial, Zuni Festival and Santa Fe Indian Market

I needed a rest and an escape from the heat of Phoenix so I decided to extend my planned trip to Santa Fe Indian Market by starting over a week early and heading for Gallup, New Mexico.  Gallup's Intertribal Ceremonial takes place a week before the Santa Fe Indian Market. If you take a week and a half, you can enjoy both!

I'm sharing this itinerary because I enjoyed it so much. I plan to do it again next year (and you might enjoy a similar trip.)

Day 1 - Drive from Phoenix via Flagstaff and stop for lunch at La Posada in Winslow. By now, it's 20 degrees cooler and wandering the art-filled halls of La Posada after lunch in the Turquoise Room will certainly get you in an artsy, relaxed mood.

Arrive in Gallup and check in at one of the Gallup hotels. I usually stay at the Hampton Inn because of cleanliness and comfort but have been known to stay at El Rancho because of the history and fun atmosphere.

I arrived early enough that I was able to visit some of my favorite  Native American jewelry haunts to see what was new. I enjoy finding unusual things for my Native American Jewelry and Gift business. I had the option of attending the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Thursday night parade but decided to opt for the Saturday parade instead. Besides, I was trying to rest.

Day 2 - Rested up, it was time to spend a full day enjoying the activities of the Gallup Ceremonial. I went out to Red Rock State Park at about 10am. The parking lot was not full at all and the festival grounds were not crowded. In fact, some of the vendors were just setting up. I soon learned that most people come later in the day and stay well in to the night enjoying the dances, presentations and fun.

I took time to learn about the prize-winning art in the Exhibtion hall for a series of articles I was writing. I then visited the vendors in the courtyard and noticed that the quality was really quite good this year. Brad Panteah (Zuni-Navajo) was there with his contemporary Navajo designs and silver Christmas ornaments.

I also enjoyed the dancing and story-telling in the amphitheater and the Gourd dances in the main Pow Wow arena. When you go, be sure and pick up a schedule. There is much happening concurrently.

While writing about the prize winners, I had the pleasure of talking with Head Judge, Joe Tanner, who described the judging process and later, invited me to visit him and his wife at their shop, Tanner Indian Arts, in downtown Gallup. Visiting with this amazing trading couple and seeing their treasure trove of collectible Indian art, was a privelege.
Day 3 - It's parade day! Saturday parades can get quite crowded and people had suggested I go really early for a good place (usually at an  intersection as that is where the dancers stop and perform). However, I opted to drive downtown a bit late and saw folks parking. I pulled in behind another parade-goer and parked. What I found out is that yes, you can go late and park but you need to be prepared to walk 5 or 6 blocks to the parade route. That was fine with me, although I ended up sitting on the sunny side of the street. I was in good company and everyone chatted and had a great time. I was at the beginning of the parade route so saw all the units first.

The parade was  a non-stop fashion show of traditional Native clothing. From the dignitaries and politicians in their velvet shirts and Concho belts to the groups of dancers such as the Olla Maidens from Zuni, there was so much to see and photograph. The parade consisted of individuals, bands and groups of colorful dancers. The two-hour feast for the eyes was drawn to a close by the Wells Fargo stage coach and team of horses.

I had been invited to Zuni Pueblo to see their Culture and Arts Festival which traditionally takes place on Saturday and Sunday 10am - 4pm. After the crowds and traffic in Gallup, it was a relief to drive out Hwy 53 through the beautiful countryside to the Pueblo of Zuni. ( Map )  Overshadowed by magestic Corn Mesa, the Pueblo is home to the Zuni, one of the most culturally intact communities of the area.

I arrived at the Visitors Center in time to see dancing and listen to Tony Eriacho give a talk on ensuring that your Native American jewelry purchases are authentic. It is so hard to tell the difference between Native American made and foreign copies, that I know the only way to be sure, is to purchase directly from the artist or from a reputable trader or gallery.

After visiting the artisans, talking to some Zuni friends and purchasing an interesting fetish carving, I was headed back to Gallup to enjoy the countryside once again.

My visit to Gallup was drawing to a close and soon I would be off to Santa Fe, a three-hour drive, to enjoy all the festivities associated with Indian Market. Watch for Part II of  this August Getaway Itinerary - Indian Market Week in Santa Fe.

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography