The ghosts of cowboys previous on the a centesimal Santa Fe Indian Market

Views by Lonely Planet is a sequence dedicated to beginning conversations. On this characteristic, author Simon Moya-Smith visits the a centesimal annual Santa Fe Indian Market and finds that, even a century on, previous habits die laborious.

All the pieces was in full swing two blocks away, the place I may hear laughter, drums, the sound of a jingle costume and a refrain of “oohs” and “ahs” from a herd of oldsters who’d simply trundled into city.

Native folks from as far north as Anchorage, Alaska and as far east as Brooklyn, New York rolled into Santa Fe, New Mexico, to promote their wares, sing songs, paint work, and exhibit their newest duds whereas the who’s who of Indian nation got here to rub elbows. 1000’s of non-Indigenous folks additionally flooded into city, together with of us who, judging by their open-mouthed gapes, appeared to only need to get a glimpse of what actual Natives appear to be. It was, in spite of everything, the 100th anniversary of the Santa Fe Indian Market, an annual occasion showcasing a few of the high artists from throughout the continent. Rumor had it that the value of lodge rooms within the space had skyrocketed to $1200 an evening (“White folks costs,” my Ojibwe buddy complained).   

It was Saturday afternoon, the third day of the four-day market, once I wandered into the lounge of the luxurious Lodge St. Francis. Half-drunk glasses of Chardonnay littered the tables. Regardless of the crowds, I discovered an unoccupied desk between two teams of white of us in wide-brimmed hats and jean shirts. I opened my pocket book There’s no actual solution to specific it – what it’s wish to be a fetish in a room loaded with those that have a fetish for you,” I wrote.They need to contact your hair. Your face. Your ft.That Native folks have traditionally been fetishized – in Hollywood, in historical past books, on holidays like Thanksgiving — isn’t breaking information. Should you’re Native, you’re used to getting stared down like a star. You nearly anticipate folks to ask you to signal their dreamcatcher as you stroll by. 

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The annual Santa Fe Indian market attracts vacationers from everywhere in the world. The 2022 version was additional particular because it marked the a centesimal anniversary of the occasion.  © Viki Eagle / Lonely Planet

Immediately, my ideas had been disrupted by the sound of boot heels and spurs on the tile flooring. An enormous white man with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat waltzed into the room prefer it was a saloon within the 12 months 1888. He sat on the bar, flipped his chair round towards the entryway, and watched us. Two drinks later, he was gone.

Quick ahead a couple of hours, and I noticed him once more, showing out of nowhere like a foul apparition of Common George Armstrong Custer, the well-known (and, all-too-often, heralded) assassin of Native folks. I wanted to know what was up with this ghost of an previous, lifeless common. Close to Evangelo’s, a dive joint, I approached him, launched myself and supplied to purchase him a drink.

As soon as we had been on the bar, he didn’t waste a second earlier than starting the underhanded insults. “If you realize you’re not Indians, why do you name your self Indians?” he requested.

“Nicely, Swinomish,” I stated.


“Then Yu’pik, man.”

“Choose what?” he responded, wanting a bit pissed off.


I defined how Natives determine ourselves, that Swinomish, Yu’pik, Oglala, Oneida and so forth are names of the languages and the peoples who communicate them. “See?” I stated. “You guys get confused if we seek advice from ourselves by our nations and tribes.”

He ruffled his mustache, stated nothing, and took one other sip of his whiskey.

“By the way in which,” I requested, “why would you costume like a cowboy at occasion with ‘Indians?’” (I put additional emphasis on the air-quotes round “Indians.”) “Wouldn’t you say it’s a little bit out of style to decorate just like the oppressor at an occasion held by the folks the cowboys oppressed?”

He pushed his chair again, which made a grating sound on the ground, completed his drink in a single swift gulp, stood up and put his hand on my shoulder.

“As a result of,” he stated, pausing, “who’s going to cease me?

Young Native American members of the Edaakie Junior Dance Group from Zuni Pueblo near Gallup, New Mexico
Younger Native American members of the Edaakie Junior Dance Group from Zuni Pueblo close to Gallup, New Mexico, pose for images on the Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico © Robert Alexander / Getty

The ghost of Common Custer walked out the door, leaving me with deep ideas, anger and extra notes. 

There are various folks like that jackal who come to Indigenous occasions and do all types of terrible issues, some even with the only objective of offending or flaunting their energy. There are tales of vacationers grabbing braids, beads, feathers, something that’s in your physique, actually, and touching folks’s faces and snapping images of Indigenous distributors and guests once they’re not wanting.

Typically it makes me marvel, what’s the distinction between the hoards visiting a zoo and people who come to the Santa Fe Indian Market and stare at us? 

The truth that I so usually discover myself asking questions like this doesn’t imply non-Native folks shouldn’t come to our occasions, solely that they need to contemplate tips on how to respectfully navigate Native areas. Include an excellent cursory data of the previous and current. Deal with us like people, not novelties. Not relics of the times of yore. Not objects to be fondled. Don’t assume. Don’t stare and whisper. Don’t snap images of us with out our permission. Don’t inform us you’re “1 / 4 Cherokee” as an excuse to snap that picture. And undoubtedly don’t come carrying Cleveland Indians shirts, Washington R******* hats, or every other wretched type of Indian mascotry or dressed like a lifeless common with a grudge. Easy sufficient. Play, pay and, higher but, pay whereas contemplating the cash you’re spending a type of lease. That is stolen Native land, in spite of everything. 

Learn extra: How this Minneapolis chef is reintroducing Native American delicacies to the world

Santa Fe Indian Market vendors
The Santa Fe Indian Market is a significant draw for Indigenous artists and designers from throughout the continent 

Later that day, I discovered myself writing frantically: purchase from Indigenous of us solely,” over and over as if to take my thoughts off the person and his vicious Nineteenth-century-style bigotry. As a result of although you’re comparatively secure from the imitators at an Indian Market, there are nonetheless plenty of fakers and shills on the market, everywhere in the world, who need to fleece you with snake oil within the form of dreamcatchers or artwork items or pottery. They use language like “authentically made” (actual Native artists don’t must say so) and put on buckskin to reel you in. Simply because somebody claims to be Indigenous doesn’t at all times imply they’re. So you should definitely purchase Indigenous artwork from actual Indigenous artists. 

It was rising late, and I used to be craving wings or shrimp or something aside from the wildly costly tacos that crowded the world close to the plaza, the place many of the Santa Fe Indian Market motion takes place. Diannah Reid, a Diné mannequin and buddy from Brooklyn, joined me for a chew. We had been solely about ten minutes into our Bang-Bang Shrimp when 4 white girls approached us.

“What’s your sales space?” one woman requested, pointing at my necklace, which is fabricated from beads and buffalo bone.

I used to be chewing on a mouthful of meals, so it gave me time to come back again with one thing witty. It’s a kissing sales space, I thought of saying.

Santa Fe Indian Market street style
Road type on the market © Viki Eagle / Lonely Planet

“I’m a Native,” I stated as a substitute. “I’ve no sales space. This was a present from my cousin.”

A glance of disappointment fell throughout her face, and she or he turned away, saying nothing in response.

“Why do they at all times assume issues?” Diannah stated.

“They assume all the things.”

“Don’t assume” is an age-old tip, however there are different issues you are able to do as a customer to an area just like the Indian Market as nicely. Whereas wandering the market, I overheard a white man inform a Native vendor, “Please forgive my ignorance. I did not know.” “Candy jeezus,” I believed. “Think about if each non-Native admitted that to themselves every so often?” This man went in with full humility and a willingness to study. It’s one thing we want extra of – not simply in Indigenous areas just like the Indian Market, however all over the place. 

In between sniffing out wannbeism and calling out informal racism, I did a couple of issues to experience – they’re the identical issues that convey me again to the market 12 months after 12 months. We rang bells, we cried, we laughed, and we laughed whereas crying. We loved ourselves, regardless of the incidents of aggression, each passive and in any other case. That’s the Indigenous method. 

One evening, we took over the music corridor on the Buffalo Thunder Resort On line casino simply north of city. Make love not battle was the power, and love was made. Because the band performed on stage, two Natives made out by the entrance door with out a care on the earth. Elsewhere, dangerous blood between two previous enemies gave solution to calmer tides; “she did that to you, too, huh?” one stated to the opposite. It was our secure house, if just for a couple of hours. 

“Someplace, proper now, somebody acquired their snag,” I stated to a pal (“snag” is Native-speak for getting a date and even simply getting laid.) However I feel she was too centered on doing her personal snagging to pay me any thoughts.

Santa Fe Indian Market 2022 sights
TOP LEFT: Navajo jewellery by Tonya June Rafael; 

There’s nothing on this world extra lovely to me than Natives, frybread, good folks and good folks having fun with frybread. And that’s who and what we would like at our pow wows, markets and meet-ups, particularly in Santa Fe. Be the one who asks permission to take the picture, who admits their errors and who involves study. As a result of after 530 years of this insanity, we’re nonetheless asking: “Who’re the nice white of us, and who’re the dangerous ones?”​