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Santa Fe Days brings Native American history to Carrollton: Ninth year promises to bring culture to the forefront
Photos courtesy of Santa Fe Days organizers
Chester Nez is the last surviving Navajo Code Talker who assisted the United States during World War II.
Santa Fe Days, Carrollton's largest gathering of Native Americans, is just around the corner.
The free Native American cultural event features more than 40 Native American artists and craftsman, championship plains Native American dancers, Evelio Flores' Aztec Dancers- Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli, and Southern Drum-Bear Claw Singers.
The event will be held Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the square in Historic Downtown Carrollton.
The idea came in 2003, when Carrollton businessman David Oldfield was visiting New Mexico. During his trip, he met the Santa Domingo veteran craftsmen, who are predominantly jewelers. Oldfield thought the jewelry was so beautiful that he wanted to somehow bring the crafts to the city.
Enter Annette Anderson, who has been assisting in the event for the past four years. She, along with Native American community members, has been pushing for a more cultural experience, and this year is no different.
"For the past four years we have been trying to develop a cultural aspect of it so it's not just jewelry and pottery and all of the crafts," Anderson said. "Now we have Pueblos and nations from all over the United States that are represented through their crafts."
The last surviving Navajo Code Talker, Chester Nez, will be on hand to sign his book about the role the Navajo language played in World War II.
"Most of the code talkers were sent to boarding school when they were little, where they were told not to use their language and were punished for doing so," Anderson said. "Then, the United States government said they needed them to use their language to use the code, because it was the only one that had never been broken."
Anderson said the U.S. tried several other native languages during World War II, including languages native to the Choctaw, Comanche and Cherokee tribes.
Santa Fe Days has incorporated a new cultural path where children and families can learn how Native Americans influenced the food so commonly found on their tables.
"For instance, our main thing is a seed protector bag that every child is going to get," Anderson said. "We made 1,000 handmade seed bags. When they come to the children's cultural path, they will get a sample of the three sister sees - corn, beans and squash, which is an ancient agricultural method used for centuries. Then they learn about protecting our seeds and GMO seeds versus heirloom seeds."
At least 60 percent of the world's food supply is reliant on foods that were originally grown by the indigenous people of America, who cultivated more than 300 foods including Irish potatoes, which were actually first grown by Native Americans.
"We have an indigenous grocery store with all of the items grown by indigenous people and children will see them in the grocery store but won't connect with here they where the food came from," Anderson said. "We're showing them how all of this fits together. I take a mobile store with me to powwows and children will come up to me asking about a pinto been and say they have never had one. But when I tell them that those are the beans used in bean burritos from Taco Bell, they immediately connect."
In addition to the indigenous grocery store, Santa Fe Days will feature a new exhibit called "Food is Medicine."
"We show them how everyday foods that you get in the grocery store were actually used as medicine for indigenous people," Anderson said. "For example, you can take avocado pit and cut it into fourths that can be made into tea that helps with stomach troubles. We are trying to get a typical herbal cough drop and have as many of the ingredients in its plant form so kids can see how this all fits together."
A quiz will be given to adults and teenagers to see if they can identify which herb aids which ailment. But it's not all food and herbs, Anderson said, there are many other attractions this year that she hopes will bring in more people.