The 33rd annual California Indian Market and Peace Dance held May 6 and 7 in San Juan Bautista, was a weekend that showcased not only entertainment, but also a variety of arts from Indian Nations across the country.
With the theme, “Living Prayer for World Peace,” the Zipe Totec Aztec Dancers performed, and people were called to the dance through the loud drumming. Then, dancers, wearing feathers and bright colors, got the crowd on its feet to dance for peace.
There were booths of jewelry, baskets, masks, weavings, pottery and food.
Jose Rodriguez manned the Kari Raramuri booth that offered art made by the people of the Sierra Madre Mountain in Chihuahua, Mexico. They live in the remote villages in the Sierra and in the Copper Canyons.
“All proceeds go to the tribe,” Rodriguez said.
Don Phelps, in another booth, pointed out a shark mask made by the Haida people in Canada.
CJ Tachyn and his 12-year-old daughter, Waniyetu Tachyn, sold jewelry made of silver and stones.
“I am from the original Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokee Tribe,” Tachyn said, who now lives in Seaside with his family.
A food booth from Salinas sold Indian fry bread along with other food and drink booths to keep people in the celebratory mood. And few could pass up the yellow parrot held on the arm of Miss Sanchez without stopping.
The festival also noted Mexico’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the yearly recognition of the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
The Indian Market got its beginnings in 1984 when Air Force veteran Laynee Reyna had the dream to bring a festival to San Juan Bautista.
Her friend said he’d take her to Santa Fe to learn how to organize an American Indian Fair.
“It was a dream,” Reyna said of the first fair in 1984. “It was held under the Mission Colonnade, with the people we brought back from the Santa Fe and the Navajo Nation,” she said, noting they were the art vendors and dancers.
Reyna, at age 81, still presides over the fair, assisted by her granddaughter, Tearsa Hammock.
Reyna and Hammock were called into service often as other volunteers came up to them for questions regarding various aspect of the fair.
The California Indian Market and Peace Dance is a nonprofit organization, and admission to the event through a donation.