November 14, 2015. Retrieved online November 16, 2015 from Beth Waters, Special to the Sun-News, Las Cruces Sun-News
[Excerpts below reprinted with permission: Read the complete Las Cruces Sun-News article]
LAS CRUCES – Peering out from beneath her brightly patterned umbrella, Diana Chino sought to block Saturday’s blazing sun, as she spoke softly to the curious passing by.
“Feel free to pick things up, you can touch them,” she encouraged those pausing at her vendor’s table, which displayed her hand-made items of Native American artistry.
Chino was one of about a dozen vendors participating Saturday in the third annual Native American Market and related cultural activities and displays, at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park.
The two-day event, which continues Sunday, is sponsored by the New Mexico State University Native American Business Students Organization (NABSA) and celebrates Native American Heritage Month.
Tammy Benally stood over the rolling boil of fry oil in twin cast-iron cauldrons, while pancaking dough between her hands. “Everyone here is excited to be sharing our history and culture. We are a united nation of Native Americans, we’re all one tribe and events like this one lets us share something that is so dear to us,” Benally said. “We’re here to share all our different talents.”
Taking advantage of the shade in an interior classroom, Jan Kirwan, superintendent of the park, described the uniqueness of the event. “This gives the public the opportunity to actually ask questions and hear directly from the artisans,” Kirwan said. Noting that the event is in its third year, Kirwan added that attendance seems to grow every year.
“That first year, it was so well attended that we had people come out the next day, hoping there was a second day,” Kirwan related. “So last year we added a second day, and then it rained. If it rains again, we’re prepared, we’ll just move everything inside, into the classrooms.”
Dressed in full Native American regalia, Kahlaya McKinney was invited to attend the event in her capacity as Miss Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Queen. Like Suazo, McKinney points to the unique atmosphere of the event.
“It’s so quiet and cozy here, very intimate,” McKinney said. “I’ve been to the market in Santa Fe and its so busy that the vendors just have a few minutes with the customers, to tell their stories and explain things.”