Arizona Indian Festival Highlight of Western Week in Scottsdale

Dine'tah Navajo Dancers at the 2023 Arizona Indian Festival at the Scottsdale Civic Center. (Photo by Darren Thompson)
Dine'tah Navajo Dancers at the 2023 Arizona Indian Festival at the Scottsdale Civic Center. (Photo by Darren Thompson)

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — This weekend, the Arizona Indian Festival showcased the culture and heritage of the state’s 22 federally recognized tribes to a crowd of more than 10,000.

While the festival has had various venues throughout the years,  it has been a popular staple of Scottsdale Western Week since 2012 and is a popular event among the area’s indigenous communities. It is the largest Native gathering in Arizona.

“Over the years we have had several Indian festivals, today we’re here at Scottsdale Civic Center showcasing all 22 tribes to showcase our culture and promote tourism in each of our reservations,”  Arizona American Indian Tourism Association President Rory Majenty told  Native News Online. “There’s a lot of beautiful things at the festival, and we welcome all visitors to learn about the beautiful culture that we have as Native people.”

During the two-day cultural event, visitors were shown traditional songs and dances from the Burnette Apache Crown Dancers, Dineh’tah Navajo Dancers, Pascua Yaqui Dancers;  Black Mountain Bird Singers, Apache Riders from White Mountain Apache, Big Sandy Bird Dancers; Zuni Traditional Dancers, Dinetah Pollen Dancers, Yavapai Apache Little Warriorettes. Crowds were also treated to language presentations from tribal royalty. The artist market featured 69 American Indian arts and crafts vendors.

Also unique to the festival is the presentation of “The Little Sister Rug”—a rare Chilchinbeto Rug created by 11 Navajo weavers from the Navajo Nation’s Chilchinbeto Chapter. The rug measures 20 feet in height and 25 feet in width.

The weekend celebration is always free and open to the public.

“We’re all in this together, and there’s many lessons we can learn from each other,” Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega told the crowd at the Arizona Indian Festival on Sunday, Feb.  5.

About the Author: "Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor\u2019s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "