The outdoor amphitheatre in Scottsdale Civic Center Park will be brimming with traditional Native American song and dance for the 12th season of Native Trails, most Thursdays and Saturdays between January and April 2014. Presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and produced by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, this downtown Scottsdale event allows guests to absorb the sights, sounds and tastes of Southwestern Native American culture.
Performers and artists from tribes such as the Hopi, Diné (Navajo), Hualapai and San Carlos Apache take centre stage during these free hour-long festivals from 12 to 1 p.m. between 16th January and 5th April 2014.
“I am proud that Native Trails is entering its 12th season, and we are privileged to share our rich culture with visitors to the Valley, as well as local residents,” said Derrick Suwaima Davis (Hopi/Choctaw), artistic director for Native Trails and six-time hoop dance world champion.
Dancers, in traditional attire, weave in and out of several hoops to the sounds of chanting and beating drums during the rapid, intricate hoop dance. Other performances include the Eagle Dance, the Southwest Horse Dance and inter-tribal pow wow dances, as well as the Round Dance, an audience-participation event celebrating the connection of all people and cultures.
American Indian artisans and vendors from around Arizona sell jewellery, baskets, pottery, instruments and paintings at the festivals. Each Saturday a featured artist conducts an in-depth demonstration of their method, providing visitors a rare chance to speak with them on a one-to-one basis.
The cultural immersion at Native Trails does not end solely with observation. Dinè Yummy offers attendees the chance to taste indigenous ingredients, with lunches featuring cactus chili with Sonoran Desert tepary beans, mesquite muffins, fry bread, and delicacies made from blue corn.
Native Trails performances began in January 2003 as part of the City of Scottsdale’s cultural tourism initiative, Culture Quest Scottsdale. The programme was created following a city-conducted study that revealed Scottsdale tourists craved experiencing Native American culture during their visit. That has proved true each season: last season, January – April 2013, 5,098 people attended the event.