Magazine article Sunset

The Tribes Are Gathering in Gallup

Magazine article Sunset

The Tribes Are Gathering in Gallup

Article excerpt

The tribes are gathering in Gallup It's just dark, and a hush falls over the red sandstone arena. Some 160 Indians from 14 tribes have made their grand entry--a United Nations of Native American peoples. Each tribe wears its own distinctive dress. Gathered, silent, in a cirecle, they wait, with crowds in the grandstands above, for bonfires to be lit and a medicine man's blessing to be sung.

So begin 2 hours of ceremony, with each group in turn sharing song and dance traditions from its past. It's a moving spectacle, and it's often touched by the Indians' own brand of humor. (Last year, the entire group joined in an impromptu intertribal bunny hop, in honor of a Cheyenne woman dancer's 87th birthday.)

The Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial--August 13 to 17 this year--is one of the country's oldest and biggest pan-Indian events. It celebrates three activities dear to the hearts of many Native Americans--dance, arts and crafts, and rodeo.

The ceremonial began in 1922, when Gallup was a lusty railroad and coal mining town; for years, it variously thrived and faltered. But since 1975, when the event moved 6 miles east of town to pinon-studded Red Rock State Park, it has steadily grown and refined itself into a gem of an event, well worth a special trip.

Seeing the best of this year's artists

This is an excellent place to view fine contemporary Indian arts and crafts. It's also a good place to ask questions and to learn. Artists, traders, and judges are all willing to share their knowledge.

Indian artists are welcome to offer their own works, and more do every year. But most entries are chosen by dealers who study Indian art. Representation from the Southwest is strongest, but you'll also see work by Plains, Eskimo, Northwest, and East Coast tribes.

Outside the exhibition hall, up to a hundred Indian craftsmen offer their work--all first reviewed for quality.

Inside the hall (open 11 to 9 Thursday through Saturday, 11 to 5 Sunday), the top dealers sell a dizzying array of Indian crafts--including beadwork, leather goods, jewelry, dolls, and sand paintings. Look for crafts demonstrations, too.

Next door are some 5,000 works of art made by Indians during the past year--judged by 25 experts, who give cash awards to artists in numerous categories.

A parade, a race, dancing, rodeo

Unless otherwise noted, all these events will be at the state park. …

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