This weekend, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will celebrate its 30th annual Indian Market and Festival in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Presented by Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the festival is set to include live music, performances and demonstrations, food vendors and Native American artists from across the United States and Canada, said Bryan Corbin, public relations manager for the museum.
"It's really one of the most iconic cultural events in Indianapolis," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to, No. 1, to meet the artists in person and to purchase their art, take the art home and to learn about Native American cultures."
The festival also coincides with the grand re-opening of the Eiteljorg’s Native American galleries, which have been closed since September 2021 for remodeling.
Corbin said the Indian Market will feature approximately 140 Native American artists representing about 60 different tribes and cultures. Jewelry, pottery, paintings, carvings, sculptures, cultural items and other types of decorative art will all be on display and available to purchase from these artists.
Shirley M. Brauker, a Native American artist from the Ottawa tribe of the Little River Band and a Coldwater, Michigan, resident, said she has been attending the Indian Market since it began.
“Part of what I like about going there is the interaction with the people because I get a chance to explain things and to talk about, you know, my art and about the traditions,” Brauker said. “And if there’s stories that go along with the art, I can tell people that.”
Brauker said her primary medium is pottery, including kiln-fired, pit-fired and sawdust-fired. However, in addition to her Odamin, or "heart berry" pots, Brauker said she will be selling ledger art, which she recently started doing and described as drawing on 1800s-era documents such as court records.
Ledger art is becoming more common in Native American tribes in the plains and out west, Brauker said. Brauker said she is able to put more details into the stories she draws on the old ledger documents, including contemporary issues such as missing and murdered Indigenous women, water quality and oil pipelines.
“In the ledgers, I do a lot of stories, whether they're from my tribe, or just generally from Native communities that tell so much of the histories,” she said. “I've always been interested in that, so it's my way of portraying that and sort of keeping that alive.”
Tim Blueflint, a multidimensional and third-generation artist based in Northern California, said he’s excited to reunite with both new and old friends.
“They (the Eiteljorg) help us and give us a platform," he said, "to be able to promote our art, talk about and teach about our culture to people that may not have the opportunity to talk about these things with Native Americans from all around the country, all around North America.”
Blueflint, who was previously an artist-in-residence at the Eiteljorg, said he primarily creates contemporary Native American fine art flutes from exotic woods and hardwoods from all over the world, integrating some of his jewelry techniques and designs into the work.
In the last seven years, Blueflint said he went back to his roots in designing jewelry using all-natural and gem-grade stones, sterling silver, 14- and 18-carat gold and Mokume Gane. Both Blueflint's jewelry and flutes will be for sale at the festival, he said.
Michelle Reed, co-founder and manager of Woodland Sky Native American Dance Company and one of several performers at the festival, said this is the first year the company will be attending and performing at the Indian Market and Festival.
“I think every opportunity we as Native people have to show our artwork, show our dances, tell our stories, is just another opportunity to remind people that we are still here,” Reed said. “We're living culture. We're not replicators, we're not reenactors. We are actually people who have evolved over time just as other cultures and people have.”
Reed said Woodland Sky will perform several dances, including the story of the Jingle Dress, the Eagle Dance — which talks about how the eagle flies closest to the Creator — the Shield Dance and the Hoop Dance.
“Our goal is to really show the beauty of our culture,” Reed said. “A lot of people aren't even aware that native people are still here and thriving and, you know, doing these things that we do, and I think it's important that we tell our stories in a way that make people really interested in learning about them.”
If you go: Indian Market and Festival
The Indian Market and Festival will take place June 25-26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. inside the Eiteljorg Museum and outside on the grounds, at 500 W Washington St.
Parking will be available for guests at the White River State Park underground garage, accessible by West Washington Street. Pets and coolers will not be permitted inside the festival, according to the website.
Tickets for the festival are available in advance at bit.ly/3Qmyg7f for $15, or $20 at the door for non-members. Admission is free for attendees under 17. For museum members, tickets will be free for the membership holder and $15 for two adult guests.
Contact IndyStar reporter Chloe McGowan at CWilkersonMcGowan@gannett.com. Follow her Twitter: @chloe_mcgowanxx.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Eiteljorg Museum's 30th annual Indian Market and Festival in-person