Festival Fever

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Festival of Native American Culture

It has been exciting to watch the evolution of the Festival of Native American Culture, now in its third year. The first two festivals were held in June at Tequa Festival Marketplace to raise funds to open new archaeological sites in the Verde Valley. The event has been such a success that the Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society formed the nonprofit Verde Valley Archaeology Center in 2010. The center curates private archaeological collections; provides educational programs and public exhibits; and offers public lectures and research opportunities.

Aside from the accolade, the center hosts this year’s Festival of Native American Culture, which takes place Sept. 30 through Oct. 4 at a new location: Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. The two-day Native American Invitational Art Show begins Oct. 1 and features artists – primarily from Southwest tribes – proficient in a variety of mediums. The featured artist is Kathleen Wall, a clay sculptor from the Jemez pueblo. Two stages will showcase entertainment including the Yellow Bird Dancers, former Miss Indian World and Twin Rivers, a three-piece group that infuses reggae, rock, jazz and traditional Native vocals. The Yavapai-Apache Nation will also present the results of its storytelling project. There is no entrance fee for the art show.

This year, the festival is broken into two tracks. The art show follows the culture track, which also includes a tour of the Hopi Reservation (Oct. 1), a performance by Uqualla of the Havasupai Tribe (Oct. 1), a Navajo culture seminar followed by an optional Canyon de Chelly visit (Oct. 2), and a seminar on the significance of the Grand Canyon and San Francisco Peaks to local tribes (Oct. 3). Visit the festival’s website for prices.

The second track, which focuses on archaeology, provides some unique opportunities to learn about the ancient cultures of northern Arizona and beyond. On Oct. 1, enjoy an evening of French archaeology at the Sedona Creative Life Center. Tickets are $35. The fundraiser features French pastries along with a screening of Caves of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog’s documentary on the 35,000-year-old rock art in the Chauvet caves in southern France. Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin, a professor at Northern Arizona University and one of the few people who’ve been allowed to visit the caves, will introduce the film. But we had to ask Ken Zoll, the festival’s director, what ancient rock art in France has to do with Native Americans.

“Archaeology is archaeology, and anything that adds to the public knowledge is beneficial,” he says. “And during this event, you’ll actually learn that some archaeologists believe some of the Native Americans migrated from southern France.”

The documentary will be screened again on Oct. 2 at the Camp Verde Unified School District Multi-Use Complex Theater. On Oct. 3 and 4, the Albuquerque-based Archaeological Conservancy will lead separate hikes to two pueblos in the Verde Valley that are not open to the public. Hikes begin at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day and are limited to 14 people. Tickets are $50 per hike.

Festival of Native American Culture, Sept. 30-Oct. 4 @ Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 SR 179. Admission ranges from free to $240. For more info, call 928-284-4767 or visit www.festivalofnativeamericanculture.org.

Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival

Back in 2002, two friends with a passion for documentary films started the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival, which returns Oct. 13-16. But if the thought of another documentary about Wall Street or climate change makes you want to buy tickets for the next comic book sequel, put your debit card back in your wallet. This festival has balance, says spokeswoman Kristi Frazier. In addition to programs that focus on the environment, social justice and indigenous voices, there is also a program featuring extreme sports and adventure documentaries.

“This festival gives you an intimate window to the world that you wouldn’t get otherwise,” says Kristi. “But it’s not just about heavy movies. There are so many different types of documentaries, and our topics range from a truck turned into a garden, a scholarship program in Africa and the concept of happiness, to children of war in Uganda.”

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