Santa Fe’s free Indian market is just that, free

Santa Fe Indian Market weekend draws thousands of art-loving tourists every year

Santa Fe Indian Market 2019 was a tale of two markets. The premier Southwest Indian Arts Association Indian Market event and the upstart 2-year-old “Free Indian Market” across the street at the nearby Scottish Rite Temple property.

The weekend draws thousands of art-loving tourists every year. SWAIA Director Ira Wilson discusses its impact.

Ira Wilson – SWAIA Director: It’s just a plethora of Native activity down on the plaza we take up 17 city blocks if you can believe that. We also bring an influx of cash flow into the city of about 1.6 million dollars. Well, it brings culture and history to the city of Santa Fe. It’s really a cool way for us to share a partnership with museums and their culturally active in that way as well, but we actually bring the Native Spirit to the Whole City So it’s a really good partnership.

Dr. Gregory Schaff founded the new show in town last year developed originally to house over 50 artists not juried into the SWAIA event. This year the Free Indian Market has grown to over 200 participants.

Dr. Gregory Schaff: When we decided to make the booth space free of charge, everyone’s aid that’s impossible, you can’t do that. I said ‘well if I produce the show and I guarantee the cost of every nickel of the show, I can do whatever I want.’ And I decided, I’m going to make this show free, just like the good old days. I’m going to bring back that old-time spirit of Indian market here in Santa Fe, I call this the free Indian market, now we are under the New Mexico foundation, we are a 501c3 and we rely on donations and our silent auction to pay for all the costs.

Mr. Frank Frowler Jr.: They are trying to revive the old ways, where it started from, that’s how this started as a free Indian market. And that’s where it's different, that’s what I like about it — they’re trying to revive the good old days, like the way it was.

Longtime SWAIA showman Duane Maktima and former SWAIA Judge Alexander Yuevella both see a need for each event.

Duane Maktima: I am seeing other shows open up and honestly, it’s a good opportunity, and some say they like doing that show because the pressure is off. You can just be who you are, being a real Indian, being a real Native and just do what you know, do what your generations before have taught you, that is very important. In this show you have to be, innovation you know, is the number one priority and to be unique. But that’s not who we are as Indian people, we don’t really try and out show each other, that’s not being Native, it’s being humble as who we are as a Native people and I commend have that ability to showcase this other group of people — that is really important.

Alexander Yuevella: It’s about professionalism in my opinion, and you know what, it doesn’t matter if you’re paying or not paying, it comes down to your personality, your character, the vibe you put out, So that’s what I’ve learned as a professional artist. You know there is always going to be criticism out there in politics and in art and everything. And so you always gotta think positive and go with the best you got and give your best shot. And that’s what I do and an artist and how I better myself day in and day out. But, as I said, everyone has their own ways of taking it and going about life, that’s my personal opinion about it.

Despite whichever show you attend, one thing is clear. Indian art is alive and well. And the place to see and be seen will always be on those hot, end of summer days, in Santa Fe.

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