Kathleen Wall did an interview with the national radio program "Native America Calling." During her chat, she talked about the electric energy that happens every year during SWAIA Indian Market. She also talked about the fact that Native people make the Southwest a particularly special place. I totally agree. Upon returning to New York in late June, I was going to write a blog with a similar theme as this one, but it didn't leave my fingers naturally and I didn't want to be disingenuous. I think maybe this is what I wanted to say with some perspective thrown in after trying to reconnect with New York this time around.
The reality is that two and-a-half years ago when I left New York for Albuquerque, New Mexico, I had no idea how much I was going to be changed by one place. New York, in the many years I lived there, changed me--I grew up a bit, learned what I didn't want in life, learned what I do want in life. New Mexico taught me how to love life. Sure, in all its third-worldesque ways of working it was frustrating and it made me aggressive at times, but truthfully you will never be in a place that is more about sharing than New Mexico.
The other day, I had a conversation with a dear friend who lives on the West Side of Albuquerque, and we agreed that one of the most special things about our lives in particular is that we get to be surrounded by art 24/7 and that our Native American artist friends would give us the shirt off of their backs. Most of them struggle even more day to day, so that's saying a lot about them. The concept of sharing--at the level that Native Americans do--is essentially lost in mainstream culture, and if people do it, they mostly do it to be politically correct. Native Americans share because it is their nature. Every year, they openly welcome people into their homes during feast days, and some are even willing to share on a deeper level about their tribes, culture and language. I respect both instances of sharing and would never do anything to exploit the sacred knowledge that I have. It comes with much responsibility to a people who are are walking the edges of two worlds that in these contemporary times seem to both be confusing and difficult.
As SWAIA Indian Market approaches next weekend (August 20-21), I am thinking about how grateful I am to be able to attend again this year. I miss the sharing and that is important to me. At my age I crave things grounded in reality--being around those I love, staying mentally and physically healthy and getting to share as well. New York City is a city of ambition and people don't typically share unless there is a price. Circumstances seemed to be leading me in another direction, but then all changed, and my original plan to return to New Mexico before Market reasserted itself. I'm thrilled!
Take away the politics, the egos and the competitveness of many people involved with Indian Market, it is truly a spiritual experience. Nowhere else can you have the opportunity to talk with so many down-to-earth, incredibly talented artists and have the opportunity to make friendships with them that will last a lifetime. That is what Indian Market is to me, and I have been so blessed to have had many incredible experiences in the time that I have lived in the Southwest. If one could only have nine lives that included terrific experiences during Indian Market and getting to know Native artists in general, I have had at least ten or eleven!
It's nice to know that while humanity seems bogged down in politics, the stock market, and general survival, we can look to Native Americans, who have been survivng for centuries and still live among us with the same ingenuity, open-heartedness and wisdom that they have always had. Perhaps we can look to their art and their culture to solve some of our own problems. That is why the Road to Indian Market is paved with gold. To all my wonderful artist friends, I love you and best of luck at the 2011 SWAIA Indian Market. Happy working!