Parkrose again hosts Native Arts Festival

Here’s a look at this year’s Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival, and here’s why it was important to those who participated …

This magical, but temporary, Native American village again appears in outer East Portland on the grounds of Parkrose High, as the 2016 edition of the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

As the morning mist cleared and the sun broke through the clouds, it illuminated a Native American village that had appeared on the grassy knoll, just west of the Parkrose High School football field, on September 24.

It featured an encampment of vendors and services organizations, all gathered around the main stage at the 2016 Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival.

Juancarlos Aguirre, a member of Dine’ Tarahumara nation, shows his jewelry and lapidary.

“Holding this festival is important on multiple levels, one of which is that the rich cultural population here has no venue in Portland to feature Native American artists,” remarked Sean Aaron Cruz, founder of the festival.

“And now, with the blessing of the Parkrose School Board and the community, this is patch of grass has become our ‘permanent’ home on the last weekend of September – as long as the grass grows, the water flows, and the wind blows – it’s a beautiful site, and we feel really blessed to be here,” Cruz told East Portland News.

Formerly a musician who played with Jim Pepper, and later with Redbone, drummer Pete DePoe spends a moment with the festival’s founder, Sean Aaron Cruz.

Progressive jazz music artist Jim Pepper is far better known throughout the music world than in Portland or in Parkrose, Cruz, said, “But, by holding this festival in his memory, featuring native artists of any genre and any type, we’re honoring his contributions to music.”

The festival also has a charitable purpose, Cruz observed. “It’s to improve charitable access to education, targeting [the Native American] population; but it’s also very inclusive, as people see with our performers who we are.”

“The Nephews” perform traditional numbers in their Drum Circle.

“This is one of those places where one can hear native voices speak in their own language, out in the air and under the sky; and we record it and put it out for everyone to experience through our website,” Cruz said. “All this is tremendously satisfying for me.”

Check in on the festival at their official website: CLICK HERE.

On our FRONT PAGE: Foster Kalama of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, performs at this year’s festival.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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