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While many Native crafts and arts have been practiced for centuries and millennia old history, some are still being developed by artists today. The Grand Canyon Cultural Demonstration Series is lucky to have artists that reach outside of some of these older art forms and create unique pieces of art that represent their culture, history and lifestyle. Many artists use symbols, patterns, and designs in these other art forms to display the everyday life, beliefs, dreams, visions, and long-standing traditions of their tribes.
Jason began working for the National Park Service in 2001, as a ranger at Navajo National Monument. Since that time, he has become a vocal presence within the field of Native American archaeology, giving presentations and promoting cultural outreach throughout the Southwest.
Roy, a Diné (Navajo) sculptor and painter, comes from the Bitterwater clan and is born for One Who Walk Around clan. The philosophies, culture, and beliefs of Roy’s ancestors are very much a part of him and his work. Roy taught himself the art of stone sculpting. He started with nothing but a stone, a file, a hammer, a chisel, and sandpaper. “My art, stone sculptures, and paintings have a specific purpose and meaning. I consider everything of the earth to be alive with spirit. The spirit of the stone and brush holds mysteries and magical properties which must be respected,” he says. Roy hopes to reflect the wisdom, strength, and compassion for others through his art.
Michelle has been a Phoenix-based Diné designer since 2004. Her designs arise from a unique enthusiasm for Pendleton blankets. Drawing inspiration from the Diné tradition and modern fashion, her label, “Dinéh Couture,” reflects elegance, tradition, and contemporary design.
Bill is from Many Farms, Arizona. He began making moccasins 15 years ago, thanks to an introduction to the craft by his uncle. The art of moccasin making has been passed down through his family as his maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather tanned and dyed the hides by hand.
Greg is a Hopi toy top maker and began making and decorating wooden tops in 2008 as a project for his 8-year-old daughter. He now crafts an average of 50 tops a month for his business. Greg says, "My work helps to keep that inner kid alive and strong and reawaken that inner child.”
Ed Kabotie is a multifaceted creative from the Tewa village of Khap'o Owinge and the Hopi village of Shungopavi. His creative expressions take the forms of paintings, drawings, silvercraft, and multi-lingual musical compositions. Kabotie considers himself an "Edu-tainer," using the arts and music to educate people about social justice issues related to the Indigenous people and lands of the Colorado Plateau. His reggae-rock band, Tha 'Yoties, are known for their catchy melodies, lively performances, and conscious message.
Ramson resides in the village of Hoteville on Third Mesa and is an award-winning glass artist, kachina doll carver, and jeweler. Ramson's glass art is viewed as "a contemporary expression of ancient and artistically rich people, evoking a beautiful, yet humbling mindscape which we all long to find."
Carrie is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and is also of Oglala Lakota descent. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology, and an M.S. in Resource Management. She began working for the Hualapai Tribe of Peach Springs, AZ in 2005. She administers a number of department projects and programs which promote the intergenerational teaching of Hualapai ethnobotanical knowledge. She works towards both preservation as well as revitalization, focusing on ensuring tribal ethnobotanical knowledge persists as a living practice and tradition.
Richard is a Wildland Firefighter, Forester, and Hualapai Craftsman. Richard says, “I remain awestruck at the sophistication and intricate knowledge my ancestors developed from living very closely with their environment – all skills necessary in order to devise and manufacture the items they used in daily activities and trade. I have been inspired to produce traditional Hualapai arts and crafts, which allows me to share and encourage people, young and old, to honor our cultural heritage.”
Daniel works as an ambassador at the Grand Canyon West Skywalk. The oral and documented histories of the Hualapai have offered Daniel insight into the appreciation of Native cultural values. He shares the traditional uses of the natural resources from his homelands with visitors. The creation of his self-taught crafted items relies on traditional knowledge and numerous trial and error learning experiences. He seeks to share and encourage people, young and old, to honor their cultural heritage, and the knowledge they have learned from the creator.
Bennet is a member of the Hualapai tribe and lives in Peach Springs, AZ. He creates drums using the hollowed-out root of the cottonwood tree for the drum base and deer or elk hides for the drum head. He also likes to share his knowledge of making Wualapai gourds, cradleboards, bow and arrows, traditional Pai clay techniques, and ethnobotany projects including traditional agave roasting. He says that the inspiration for his work comes from necessity, the necessity to keep these traditions alive.
Janelle performs traditional bird dancing and is an artist and interpreter at the Grand Canyon West Skywalk. Janelle says, “The oral and documented histories of the Hualapai has offered me insight into the appreciation of my cultural values. As I perform the traditional Bird dance of Hualapai, the clothing I display and wear allows me the opportunity to share with visitors our continued presence at the canyon.” The creation of her self-taught crafted items and designs rely on traditional knowledge and numerous trial and error learning experiences.
Darnell is a Zuni weaver of Pueblo attire and has been sewing traditional Zuni garments for more than 20 years. She learned how to sew from her mother when her eyesight began to deteriorate. She really got into making clothing when her children started school and had to have traditional clothing for certain days of the year. Most of her sewing experience is in Zuni traditional dress, Isleta and Pueblo-style shirts, Navajo shirt and skirt outfits, traditional back scarves, and lace aprons.
Margia lives in Zuni, NM, and creates beaded animals. After graduating high school, she learned to silversmith for several years, but then the jewelry business slowed down, she started beadwork. She remembered how her parents made beaded animals and she started to create them. Margia started attending art and craft shows in the early ‘90s and was able to make a living by selling her work there. She attends the Indian Market in Santa Fe and has received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for her work.
Troy is a Yavapai artist born at Grand Canyon, but was raised and went to school in Camp Verde. He has been an artist since grade school. Troy’s father inspired him to start drawing and that led to a wide variety of other crafts. He was self-taught and aspired to be like his father who was a painter and a singer. Inspiration for his art comes from his heart. Troy is a very dedicated artist and shares his culture through song and paintings.