The University of Arizona

Southwest Indian Art Fair 2015

March 28 & 29, 2015, on the Museum's Front Lawn


The next SWIAF will be held March 19–20, 2016. Information on this page is from our last event. Please check back in the months and weeks leading up to the fair for updated information.

Schedule of Performances | Also on the SWIAF stage: Native Fashion

Native American music and dance is as diverse as the many tribes themselves. Most traditional Native songs and dances can be linked to ceremonies or social gatherings. Today Native musicians and dancers continue their traditional forms, and also draw from these for inspiration as they create new forms of music and dance that combine elements from Western music, other tribes' traditions, and their own imagination. The Arizona State Museum’s Southwest Indian Art Fair is proud to present performances reflecting this diversity, a plethora of talent, and creativity with strong ties to cultural traditions. Featured this year are:

Jay Begaye (Diné)Jay Begaye with his drum.

Jay Begaye is a singer, songwriter, painter, sculptor and a former rodeo contestant. He was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in the small town of Steamboat Canyon, Arizona. Jay was inspired to compose and perform his own songs after hearing the Snake River Singers at a Pow Wow. From 1982 to 1986, he sang with the White Eagle Singe drum group. In 1987 he moved to Canada where he formed his own group, the Cathedral Lake Singers, who performed for 16 years until Jay returned home to Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo reservation.

Among Jay’s six albums, several have earned both critical and popular acclaim. His recording Round Dance In Beauty was a 2001 AFIM Indian Awards finalist and it earned him Best Male Artist and Best Traditional Recording nominations at the 2001 Native American Music Awards. His album, Song of Colors also earned a nomination at the 2004 Indian Summer Music Awards. When not touring and making public appearances, Jay donates a great deal of his time to helping today’s youth on the Navajo Reservation. Jay Begaye is a Canyon Records recording artist.

Jay Begaye performs courtesy of Canyon Records.

Dishchii’bikoh Apache Dancers

Apache Gaan dancerThe Dishchii’bikoh Apache Dancers are from Cibiecue, one of the five Western Apache (Ndee or Indé) tribes living in the mountainous region of eastern Arizona. Dishchii’bikoh has performed Ga’an dances and a women’s warrior dance at museums, schools and festivals, primarily in the Southwest. Ga’an are the spiritual ancestors of the Apache. They live in sacred caves in the mountains from which they watch over the Apache, protecting them and ensuring their wellbeing.

Women's Warrior DanceAt times the Ga’an leave their home to teach the Apache the correct way to live or to use their spiritual powers to heal. Crown Dancers embody the Ga’an in this physical world, serving as the Apache’s connection to the Mountain Spirit People. Each group of Crown Dancers consists of five dancers—four Ga’an who represent the four sacred directions and a caretaker who communicates with the Spirit people. Ga’an Dancers are instrumental in healing and cleansing ceremonies, including in preparing the grounds for the Sunrise ceremony, an Apache girl’s traditional coming of age ceremony.

Tony Duncan (Apache/Arikara-Hidatsa-Mandan) and Darrin Yazzie (Navajo)

Tony Duncan and Darrin Yazzie

Tony Duncan is of the Apache and Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan nations. He incorporates both the Southwestern and Northern Plains styles of song and dance in his presentations. Duncan is leader of the trio Estun-Bah, which combines his flute playing on an Apache cane flute, Darrin Yazzie’s guitar, and Jeremy Dancing Bull on drums. Duncan’s performances incorporate both the Southwestern and Northern Plains styles of song and dance. He is a five-time World Champion hoop dancer and is consistently ranked among the top ten in the world. As he dances he uses the hoops to create many intricate designs inspired by nature. With his trio Estan-Bah, Duncan has performed in Washington, DC for United States First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and in New Mexico at Indian Market and the Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow. Tony Duncan performing a hoop dance.Duncan has also performed in Europe and Asia.

Darrin Yazzie is born for the Tabaaha (Water's Edge) and Ma'il deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass) clans of the Navajo. Yazzie creates the soothing guitar leads and rhythms that provide the unique musical character of the trio Estun-bah. Known for his subtle guitar playing, Yazzie was born and raised in Chinle, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. He began playing guitar at the age of seventeen and has developed his skills as a composer as well creating many of the songs of Estun-Bah. Yazzie is motivated in his performances to share his love of music and to create a distinctive and original music that soothes spirit.

Recent nominations and awards for Duncan’s and Estabuh’s recordings include: Best International Album by Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards for From Where the Sun Rises (Estun-Bah), Best Flute Album by Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards for Earth Warrior (Tony Duncan, solo flute), which also received Best Flute Album and Record of the Year at the Native American Music Awards, and he received the NAMA Award for Artist of the Year. Others albums include Native Son and Singing Lights (with Darrin Yazzie). Both Duncan and Yazzie are Canyon Records recording artists.

Tony Duncan and Darrin Yazzie perform courtesy of Canyon Records.

Gertie N the T.O. Boyz (Tohono O’odham)

Gertie N the T.O. Boyz

Gertie N the T.O. Boyz play a mix of traditional and new Waila music. All band members are from the Tohono O’odham Nation, located in Southwestern and Central Arizona. Tohono O’odham means desert people. The term waila derives from the Spanish word “baila,” which means dance. Waila is the most popular social dance music on the Tohono O’odham Nation. Waila music includes several varieties of polkas, chote’s, (two-steps), cumbias, mazurka, and also kwalya, a popular type of square dance. Band members play accordion, saxophone, violin, bass, bajo sexto, and drums. Gertrude Lopez, better known as Gertie, is the only female waila band leader on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Over the last 10 years, Gertie N the T.O. Boyz have performed throughout Arizona, both for Native communities and others. The band has also performed in California, New York, and Minnesota. For 14 years, the band has performed as part of the Christmas production of “A Tucson Pastorela” by Borderlands Theater. The Band was nominated for the 2010 Native American Music Awards in the Waila Category. They have won many awards at Battle of the Band-type competitions including at the Wa:k Indian Days and at Gila River Indian Reservation, as well as receiving a LULAC Latino Arts Award. In 2012 Gertie was nominated for the Arizona’s Governor Award as a Musician Artist, and in 2014 Borderlands Theater honored her with a Community Service Award. Gertie N the T.O. Boyz have recorded five albums: To Everyone Who Has Left Us Forever, Tohono O’odham & Proud, A Tribute to Augustine Lopez Sr, Musicians in Harmony, and Waila Music.

Hualapai Bird SingersHualapai Bird Singers

The Hualapai Bird Singers have been performing together for seven years. This family group’s members span in age from three years to twenty years old. The women dance while the men sing. The dances imitate the moves of the birds, while the men sing to them. The songs are about the plants and animals and all things to do with life. Bird songs are sung for social gatherings as well as funerals, although they sung differently at funerals. The group has performed for a variety of events including at the opening of the glass-bottom Skywalk on the Hualapai Reservation, which was publicized in USA Today Newspaper.

Oak Canyon DancersOak Canyon Dancers (Jemez Pueblo)

The Oak Canyon dancers perform the traditional dances of Jemez Pueblo, located in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. Julian Fragua is the leader of this family dance group. The dancers gain their inspiration from many family members, who have taught them about the traditions and cultural beliefs of their heritage. They perform traditional dances such as the Eagle, Shield and Buffalo dances, as well as a friendship dance, during which they invite audience member to join with them. The Oak Canyon Dancers have been performing together for 15 years at various locations in New Mexico.

No:ligk Traditional Singers and Dancers (Tohono O'odham)

The No:ligk Traditional Singers and Dancers come from the Sells District of the Tohono O’odham Nation. No:ligk Traditional Singers and DancersThey have been teaching and sharing their traditions for the last 17 years ago under the direction of Christine Johnson. Their dances include the basket dance, which symbolizes the weaving of a basket. During the dance as they acknowledge the four directions, they pay homage to basket weavers around the world. The songs speak to the creation of the earth and its relation to those who inhabit it. Four generations of the Johnson family join together to preserve Tohono O'odham heritage and identity through song, dance and basketmaking.

Wa:k Tab Dancers (Tohono O’odham)

Wa:k Tab dancers

The Wa:k Tab Dancers, from the San Xavier District of the Tohiono O’odham Nation, consists of young women from the ages three and up who enjoy dancing and sharing their himdag (culture) with others. For the last 10 years, the dancers have performed at many events throughout the Tohono O’odham reservation, state and beyond. The young women love traveling and sharing their cultural traditions with others. It helps them develop confidence and pride in themselves and their O’odham heritage. Their dances both display and honor the artwork and craftsmanship of their fellow O'odham women.

Canyon Records

Founded in 1951, Canyon Records, one of the oldest independent records labels in existence, produces and distributes Native American music representing many tribes and styles. Canyon Records is a sponsor of the performances at SWIAF and will be selling records at the fair.

Schedule of Performances | Also on the SWIAF stage: Native Fashion

We gratefully acknowledge our performance and fashion sponsors:

Canyon Record logoLong Realty Cares FoundationDesert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment

Aveda Institute Tucson | Toni&Guy Hairdressing