Free Indian Market continues outdoors


In earlier years, longtime and elder Indian Market artists, and members of their families, were given booths at the market without having to go through the jurying process. In 2017 SWAIA ended this policy. This meant that some artists who had sold their wares at Indian Market for decades were no longer guaranteed admission. Free Indian Market, held outdoors at Federal Park this year, was initiated in 2018 to accommodate these artists on the same weekend as SWAIA's Indian Market. “These are tenured artists, our core group,” said market organizer Gregory Schaaf. “We have nine former Best of Show winners, 30 Best of Class winners, 35 Best of Division winners — these are the very best artists in all categories. When elders were not invited anymore to the main show, we created this show to help them hold their heads up high. Some of the artists are considered New Mexico and Arizona living treasures, and some have won lifetime achievement awards.” Included among the artists are descendants of the legendary potters Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo; 1887-1980) and Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara Pueblo; 1904-2001).

Free Indian Market, a juried, invitational show, takes its name from the fact that booths are free to the artists. The show is free to visitors as well. Schaaf expects “well over 500 artists” to take part in the 2022 market.

Every pueblo in New Mexico is represented, said Schaaf, “as well as the Navajo, also known as the Diné, and the Apache. We also have artists from Arizona; 90 percent of the show is from the Southwest.” The other 10 percent are Indigenous people from all over the world, he added.

“We have great entertainment, and it's all free. The entertainers donate their time to perform for the elders,” Schaaf said. “The fashion show this year will feature 15 Native designers and 30 models. Everything is free to the public and to the artists.” The fashion show takes place on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

“SWAIA's Indian Market and Free Indian Market are not in competition with each other. We support SWAIA 100 percent, and they support us,” Schaaf said. “We help those artists who don't get in [to Indian Market]. These artists have a smile on their face and get a free booth from us. Our show is owned by the artists. Ours is one of the largest events in New Mexico. It brings in untold dollars. Everything is full and money flows.”

Schaaf concluded, “We're glad that we're able to contribute to a healthy, green, family-oriented show open to the public. It's very positive for state tourism. We're one of poorest states in America, and we all need to pull together.”

For more information, call 505-670-5918 or visit facebook.com/ Free Indian Market Show.

Stephanie Nakhleh grew up in New Mexico. Her writing has appeared in many local publications. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening, cooking and exploring the state.






Santa Fe New Mexican