Gallup is a small city located in southwestern New Mexico. By some, it’s referred to as the Native American capital of the world, and you can see why when you meander its streets and immerse yourself in its culture. Everywhere, artisan crafts shops are open, selling all kinds of traditional Native American jewelry, carvings, clothing, and miscellaneous items. In addition, numerous celebrations take place throughout the year, especially in summer. Furthermore, there’s an array of museums, along with great coffee shops, and places to eat.
One notable craftsman is Aaron Anderson. Why? He is the co-founder of this year’s artisans market at the Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial. Aaron has mastered the ancient art of Tufa casting. Briefly, it’s a style of jewelry making where volcanic pumice is used as a mold, having been carved into with an intricate design.
The volcanic rock is very easy to shape, and leaves a unique finish on the metal when the process is over. Two pumice blocks are put together, having been carbonized. Then, through a funnel at the top, the craftsman will pour in liquid silver. After that, the blocks are separated, and what’s left is the silver brickwork upon which Aaron lays his design.
The process is undoubtedly meticulous and precision orientated. I learnt this through watching Aaron do his art, and it was fascinating. I could see how attached he was to what he was doing. He put so much into each design, and you could see how it was a very personal extension of himself. The same can be said for much of the creative output here in Gallup – it is an extension of Gallup, of Native American culture.
Inter-tribal Indian Celebration
The people here have a fundamental drive to share their way of life and tradition. No doubt, the Inter-tribal Indian Celebration, is an expression of this.
I had never been to a Pow-Wow dance in my life and now, I can safely say it’s bucket-list material – seriously. A Pow-Wow is a kind of ancient dance-off. In short, the last one dancing, wins. It’s a game of stamina, and style.
What’s it like? The feeling of watching those dancers, all different tribes, was like nothing I’ve experienced. I stood in awe as I listened to the drum-centric music, watching the vibrant spectacle. The raw energy emanating from the arena was simply phenomenal, and Gallup’s Red Rocks State Park was the perfect setting. I will be coming back for years.
‘Real True’ Community
The whole festival was a great time. From the Pow-Wow and the Voladores dance, to the energetic parade and car show. Everything was enjoyable, and all very insightful. The whole community plays a part in Gallup (that’s why their slogan is ‘Real True’). No one is left out, and they serve it as is.
To conclude, there are so many things to do, and so many welcoming and interesting people in Gallup. For example, Gallup Coffee is another one of the town’s great hangouts where I was welcomed. There, you will find not only superb hot beverages, but also a cool and inviting atmosphere to escape the heat. So, if you want vibrant culture nestled within a beautiful part of the world, and if you want it real true, put Gallup, NM, in your itinerary. I have no doubt when I say, you won’t regret it.
This story has been created in partnership with CITY OF GALLUP, NEW MEXICO.