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Centennial Santa Fe Indian Market begins Saturday

Indian Market show history museum
Alice Fordham
The precursor of today's Indian Market was held in 1922. An exhibition at the New Mexico History Museum displays items from Santa Fe Indian Markets through the last century

Tomorrow on Santa Fe Plaza, visitors and artists will congregate for the first full Indian Market since 2019. About 1,100 artists will participate in the event, which awards prizes to Native artists from New Mexico and beyond, and connects them directly with buyers.

Indian Market had its beginnings in 1922. It was sponsored by the director of the Museum of New Mexico, Edgar Lee Hewett, and curator and anthropologist Kenneth Chapman, both white men who wanted to create a market for traditional Native art, with the aim of preserving the traditional styles.

Now, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which runs the market, is led by Kim Peone, of the Colville Confederated Tribes and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. She said that the centennial, "definitely forced the organization to have its own reflection of the history of Santa Fe Indian Market."

She said that when the precursor to the modern market was held in 1922, "it was established by anthropologists, patriarchal systems that were really trying to preserve Indian art, from the perspective that we were going to be extinct."

Now, she says Indian art is thriving and she wants to bring it to even bigger markets like international galleries

"There's a wealth of history, a wealth of longevity in this market. And it really speaks to the living culture of what is being preserved," she said.

The main event is free for the public and runs both days of the weekend.

This reporting was supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners 

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
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