April ended with Indigeneity front and center all over Albuquerque: Indigenous music, fashion, dance, traditional and contemporary, all of it could be seen and heard throughout the city in various venues.
One needed to simply make a choice of where to go. Many times there were more than one event to choose from. Source New Mexico attempted to attend as many events as we could to showcase the Indigenous presence growing locally and across the globe.
All ages were represented at these venues, from elders to tiny tots, contemporary to traditional, drums to guitar.
Tiny tots rush to dance at the Nizhoni Days Powwow hosted by the Kiva Club, the Native American student association at the University of New Mexico, on April 30, 2023. (Photo by Jeanette DeDios for Source NM)
People got together at powwows (there were two), and they listened to live music and went to various events at indoor and outdoor venues.
The 2023 Gathering of Nations Powwow celebrated its 40th year in Albuquerque. The event invites Indigenous peoples from North America to the southwest to celebrate Indigeneity through arts, culture, politics and service. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
The weather was fairly cool over the weekend until the sun came out on Sunday. It was just in time for the Nizhoni Days Powwow held at the University of New Mexico.
The Kiva Club first charted at the University of New Mexico in 1952 to support Native American students at the state’s largest higher education institute. The powwow on April 30, 2023 culminated the 64th annual Nizhoni Days. (Photo by Jeanette DeDedios for Source NM)
As founder of Native Guitars Tour, Jir Anderson said, he would like to see Gathering of Nations become the “Native South by Southwest.”
Judging by the talent on display throughout the city this weekend, at venues not even connected to the self proclaimed, “North America’s biggest powwow,” it’s hard not to envision something like that happening in the future. With all the Indigenous brilliance on display that took over the venues this weekend, it’s clear the talent is there. The future seems bright.
It all started on a Thursday with the Miss Indian World competition, an intertribal event different from your regular tribal competition where most women might wear similar regalia.
Here, Indigenous women wear regalia from the north, south, east and west.
Contestants for the 2023 Miss Indian World competition wave to a crowd outside Expo New Mexico on April 29, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
During the actual Gathering of Nations Powwow the drum is the center of it all. It keeps the beat from which to sing and dance. It is the heart of the powwow.
A drum group sings at the 40th annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
The lighting at Tingley Colisieum matches the regalia of the dancers and their movements; they are here to impress.
Youth dancers prepare to dance for a song before judges at the 2023 Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, NM. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
There are many Indigenous people here from all over the country but there is also local representation, a Pueblo woman dances.
While powwow went on inside Expo New Mexico, songs outside the 40th Annual Gathering of Nations showcased prayers distinct to Pueblo people that live in New Mexico. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
Apache crown dancers make an appearance.
White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers at Expo New Mexico, outside the 40th Annual Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, NM. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
When the powwow begins the arena is so full of dancers one can hardly move at Grand Entry.
Grand Entry at the 40th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM on April 29, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
Outside the powwow, contemporary music events filled venues across the city. In downtown Albuquerque, The Gathering of the MC’s took over the Launchpad. This crowd is decidedly younger; think the Gen Z children of most of the crowd at the Native Guitars show happening down the road at a local brewery.
The Gathering of MCs is a hip-hop event started by Albuquerque artist Def-i in 2011. “At the beginning, we were hoping for it to be inter-tribal in a way that’s all inclusive, that anybody can be a part of,” Def-i said. “Not just Natives or Indigenous emcees, but just anybody could get down. That was the basic idea—for it to feel like a global community over time.” (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
The first day at the Native Guitars Tour kicks off the rock and roll part of the powwow weekend. Anderson (Cochiti), founder of Native Guitars also plays a mean blues guitar. The focus here is on guitar centered music: blues, country, rock.
The Albuquerque based Navajo honky tonk band Midnight Stew plays with a new additional guitar player and it adds a new layer to their music that gets the Native crowd two-stepping.
Couples two step to the sounds of Midnight Stew during the Native Guitars Tour on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
The audience is a mixture of older and young here, the oldest reservation dog himself, Gary Farmer, takes a break by a food truck after playing blues harp with his band.
The powwow highway brought Gary Farmer to Albuquerque on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
Over at Power Plant, a hidden coffee shop on a stretch of north 4th St., a different show goes on to kick off the weekend. The demographic is even younger.
Performance by Nataałii at Power Plant in Albuquerque, NM on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source New Mexico)
Comanche musician Olivia Komahcheet has come all the way from Austin to help organize it, even going so far as to playing early so she can assist in producing the show.
Komahcheet moved to Austin six months ago and it seems like a good fit, “It’s working out really good. I moved there from Oklahoma. I stayed in the OKC (music scene) for a little bit but it wasn’t really scratching that itch.”
That itch was the need to test her talent in the music capital of the world. “It’s the best decision I’ve made in a very long time.” Komahcheet says of her move.
Olivia Komahcheet in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source NM)
Her time in Oklahoma with family at the height of the Covid pandemic gave her the time and space for self reflection and to work on her craft before jumping headfirst into the Austin music scene.
Now she’s working on even big projects, like scoring the film, “Frybread Face and Me”, which recently premiered at SXSW. The film’s director, Billy Luther had been a big fan of Komahcheet’s work before finally working together on the film.
Gir Anderson performs in Albuquerque, NM on April 27, 2023. (Photo by Bright Quashie for Source New Mexico)
The next day, Native Guitars Tour moved to a larger venue downtown.
It was a show made for a big stage, with top notch Indigenous musicians playing alongside Indigenous models wearing some of the latest fashions by Indigenous designers.
For a moment, the models channeled Robert Palmer’s music videos from the 80’s, all style and swagger.
Some of the more striking dresses were inspired by Pueblo pottery.
The Native Guitars Tour at the Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque, NM on April 29, 2023. (Photo by Jeanette DeDios for Source NM)
The musicians looked to be having fun as well. Santa Clara Pueblo musician Jacob Shije was definitely channeling Shawnee guitar god, Link Wray.
Jacob Shije performs a set in Albuquerque, NM on April 29, 2023. (Photo by Jeanette DeDios for Source NM)
On this stage, the overall vibe was energetic rock and it was received well by the crowd.
A crowd cheers during the Native Guitars Tour on April 29, 2023. The event hosted multiple events during the 40th annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM. (Photo by Jeanette DeDios for Source NM)
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX