The American Indian Arts Festival, to be held June 11 and 12 on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, will be the first of its kind in Minnesota. Artists, musicians and dancers from not just the Midwest but as far away as Alaska and the Navajo southwest will show that Native American culture and arts are continuously evolving with the times.
President and CEO Justin Huenemann of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) says the artists this weekend will challenge preconceived notions of what it means to be Native. “Most people think of powwows, but we have classical guitarists, hip-hop and native blues bands. Part of this is to push the idea of what is artistry and that includes the art as well, but it may not be Indians riding a horse or a painting of a buffalo.”
The Franklin Avenue Corridor between Cedar and 35W has made a transformation of sorts in the past few years, thanks in part to the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and their revitalization projects on a section of Franklin Ave called the American Indian Cultural Corridor, stretching from Cedar to 11th Avenue Ave S. NACDI is an alliance of American Indian non-profits and businesses in the metro area, and the Franklin Avenue corridor features newly remodeled buildings including a coffee shop, art gallery and an American Indian owned bank called the Woodlands National Bank. Unveiled only a week ago, the Institute is celebrating the positive changes on this stretch of road that was a run-down, neglected and dangerous neighborhood in the 1990s.
The festival grounds is located at a grassy area the size of a football field next to the American Indian Center at 1530 Franklin Ave in Minneapolis. In addition to live music and art, there will be a variety of cultural demonstrations featuring live art exhibitions, dance and birch bark basket makers, to name a few. Huenemann says NACDI wanted a festival that would encourage people from other parts of the metro area to visit a neighborhood that has changed for the better. Festival hours are from 12-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (June 11 and 12). Everyone is welcome.
Live music includes:
Bluedog Band – Native American Music Award Winner, group of the year
Jackie Bird – Award Winning Singer and Dancer
Los Nativos -Award Winning Hip-Hop Duo
Mitch Walking Elk and the Sugar Point Band – Activist Blues and Folk Singer
Native Pride Dancers – World famous powwow dance troupe featuring fancy dancer Larry Yazzie
Chase Manhattan – Native American Music Award Winner, best Hip-hop/Rap recording
Comedian “Tito” Ybarra