NORTHERN NAVAJO NATION FAIR - SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO
The first week of October signals the start of one of the oldest and most anticipated traditional events on the Navajo Nation, the Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Started 102 years ago by the Northern Navajo Nation Agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the fair began as a harvest celebration. It has grown well beyond its simple beginnings, and now brings in crowds in excess of 50,000 from around the Four Corners and all over the country to engulf the normal population of just over 8,000.
The four-day fair schedule showcases what makes the area so unique; from the crowning of this year’s Miss Northern Navajo, the tarp and plywood restaurants of traditional and contemporary foods, powwows, an Indian arts and crafts market, and the occasional Yeti sighting. The biggest draws are the Ye’ii Bi’ Chei ceremony, a nine day healing ritual held on the edge of the fairgrounds, and the legendary parade.
Running for several miles through the heart of Shiprock, the parade is a gigantic affair. With more than 400 entries, it lasts over four hours. For the two days prior to the fair, people stake out their parade spots with pickup trucks, caution ribbon and tents.
On the morning of the parade, Shiprock is covered in a sea of people and the atmosphere is absolutely euphoric as the first banner comes down the highway leading a marathon of floats, politicians, bands, royalty and endless showers of candy.
Editor’s note: For more on the event from James, see more parade pictures, more fair pictures, and some great band videos.
Guide note: For more information on the annual, Northern Navajo Nation Fair, visit their website, www.nnnfair.com. For more news from the Shiprock Navajo community, check out Jinii Newz Channel 00.
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At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.