Native Now event shows modern Arizona indigenous culture

No weather forecast will cancel Native Now a second time around. After a previous cancellation last November because of rain, ASU’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center will host its free event on Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Although the majority of Arizona indigenous peoples are Navajo, it’s also home to a total of 22 different tribes, all of which will be celebrated at Native Now.

Eunique Yazzie, one of the event producers, will have a full line up of influential Native American performers.



“The idea of this event is to bring together our past and our future in one place,” she said.

Native Now is an annual Native American Heritage Month event that supports local Native American artists and contemporary indigenous performers. It creates a cultural atmosphere to listen to great music and enjoy indigenous foods, Yazzie said.

The event will be full of activities for all ages to create a vast learning experience and understanding of native culture and heritage.

Yazzie said among the performers is Arizona’s premier hip-hop duo Shining Soul, who use vintage beats with empowering rhymes to shed light on social injustices in indigenous and immigrant communities; Radio Healer, who creates an illusion of the cultures’ music, story and dance with the use of indigenous electronic tools and other reimagined instruments; Wilana White-Coyote, who explores deep issues of culture and identity with truth and humor; and Melanie Sainz, who will present “My Transformation,” where she shares her tribal heritage and reflects upon the many layers of her daily identity.

There will also be indigenous foods, community art projects, film screenings by Arizona filmmakers and activities for the whole family.

Native Now tries to bring new aspects in the form of art that answers questions about the significance of Native American culture and identity in a modern society, Yazzie said.

Although there are multiple Native American events in Arizona, most are set up in similar formats, said Casandra Hernandez, interpretation and programs coordinator for ASU's Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

“Native Now is a gesture towards challenging and subverting stereotypes that affect contemporary indigenous communities," she said. "It presents artistic and cultural works that push back against misrepresentations and reassert the multiplicity of indigenous voices, experiences and political struggles."

Shining Soul, which is known for criticizing the controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 in its song "Papers," invited students to visit the event and learn about Native culture, Shining Soul member Alex Soto said.

“We want to share the issues that are happening and things we saw with our own eyes while growing up ... (and bring them to) the community’s direct attention,” he said. “Where we are from, (this) is not put as much in the media level."

Shining Soul member Franco Habre said attendees will take away the enjoyment in a live experience of “double lyrics and beats” that “carry the legacy and artistry of our deserving culture."


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