Highlighting the continued vibrancy and artistic traditions of Native American communities – and the local tribes who helped shape San Antonio – the Briscoe Western Art Museum invites everyone to enjoy its annual Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival, Saturday, November 13, from 10a.m. to 5p.m. The event is free and includes admission to the Briscoe, making it a perfect way to celebrate the important role Native Americans played in shaping the West while enjoying art and artifacts that highlight Native American history during Native American Heritage Month. (Briscoe Western Art Museum, 2021)
Offering a view into traditional and contemporary Native American culture, the free community festival features storytelling, artist demonstrations, pottery, weaving and carving, as well as Native American-inspired food. Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival also features workshops and lectures celebrating Native American culture. The event starts with a special blessing, followed by a ceremonial drum circle that invites everyone to join.
The annual event is named in honor of the Payaya people who were indigenous to the San Antonio area. “Yanaguana” was the word they used to describe what is now known as San Antonio River. The festival highlights Native Americans, a core pillar of Western Art and featured in the Briscoe’s permanent collection. Since the museum opened, this festival has taken place annually, with 2020’s event taking place virtually.
“Native Americans are a key component of the American West and one of the pillars of Western Art. The Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival offers the opportunity to see, interact and celebrate with Native American artists and performers. The performances and art tell a story that’s compelling for all ages, making the event a true family affair.” – Michael Duchemin, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Briscoe Western Art Museum.
The Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival features:
- An opening spiritual blessing by the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions. Established by the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, descendants of the aboriginal people who populated South Texas and Northeast Mexico the organization works for the preservation and protection of the culture and traditions of the Native American tribes and other indigenous people who resided in the Spanish colonial missions.
- A Pow Wow-style drum circle kicks off the day, with United San Antonio Pow Wow, Inc. and Enemy Horse Drumming demonstrating and explaining common pow wow dance styles.
- Live music by Native American artists including flute players Tim Blueflint Ramel and Ryan Little Eagle. An enrolled member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, a federally recognized American Indian Tribe, Blueflint has opened for and shared the stage with Grammy Award Winner Mary Youngblood and a wide variety of artists. Hailing from the city of San Antonio, Texas, Ryan Little Eagle is of mixed Lakota/Taino and Latino heritage and is a multi-award winning international performer and musician.
- Stories from Amy Bluemel, a Chickasaw storyteller and the great-granddaughter of Eastman Kaney, an original Dawes Commission enrollee. Bluemel shares Chickasaw customs, and those of other southeastern tribes, through elaborate storytelling.
- Crafts and lectures that include a community weaving basket, pottery making, loom weaving, wood carving, and leather stamping.
Festival visitors can also enjoy the museum’s permanent collection of Western art and artifacts, including exhibitions that highlight the stories of the American Indian, cowboys, pioneering women, and others that define the West. The Briscoe’s fall exhibition spotlights vaqueros and the birthplace of the modern cowboy through almost sixty images from celebrated photographer Werner Segarra in Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo: Contemporary Photography of the Northern Mexican Cowboy. Making its United States debut at the Briscoe, the exhibition details the vaqueros’ profound influence on the American West. With almost sixty images that span more than twenty years of the lives of the vaqueros, Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo invites audiences to peer into the world of the Norteño Cowboys, not as a casual tourist, but as an intimate observer. The exhibition is open to the public through January 24, 2022.
Preserving and presenting the art, history and culture of the American West through engaging exhibitions, educational programs and public events reflective of the region’s rich traditions and shared heritage, the Briscoe Western Art Museum is located on the San Antonio River Walk at 210 W. Market Street in the beautifully restored 1930s former San Antonio Public Library building. Named in honor of the late Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. and his wife, Janey Slaughter Briscoe, the museum includes the three-story Jack Guenther Pavilion, used for event rentals and programs, and the outdoor McNutt Sculpture Garden.