November is Native American Heritage Month. American Indian images, names, and stories infuse American history and contemporary life. Pervasive, powerful, at times demeaning, the images, names, and stories reveal the deep connection between Americans and American Indians as well as how Indians have been embedded in unexpected ways in the history, pop culture, and identity of the United States. What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center joins in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans with a concert entitled “Hopi Rhythms” on Nov. 10, at 7:00 pm in the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts, 210 Camp Lincoln Road, Camp Verde. The theme and title of the concert was chosen to show the great variety of musical interest and talent among the Hopi people. The concert will feature the traditional, classical and contemporary rhythms of today’s Hopi.
The concert begins with selections from the Ongtupqa Project, a Hopi cultural music and video project celebrating the most ancient sounds to emerge from Ongtupqa (the Hopi name for Grand Canyon which translates to “Salt Canyon”). Clark Tenakhongva and Gary Stroutsos use their mastery of voice, flute and percussion to present traditional Hopi vocals and the ancient sounds of the Hopi long flute. Clark Tenakhongva was born in Keams Canyon and raised in the Third Mesa village of Hotevilla. Clark is a respected traditional cultural practitioner and has a lifetime of experience singing Hopi songs. He was elected as Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe in November of 2017 and is now actively involved in protecting cultural sites like the Grand Canyon. Gary Stroutsos is a master flute player whose contemplative music and time-honored stories evoke the lands and cultures that he has studied over his 35-year career. Gary’s talents flow through a variety of world flutes, but his mastery of the Hopi long flute transports listeners to a spirit of place unlike any other. His music can be heard on the soundtrack of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, Lewis and Clark: Journey of the Corps of Discovery, which led to a command performance at the White House. Their music will be accompanied by stunning images of the Grand Canyon and an explanation of Hopi cultural connections to the canyon.
The next performers will be the Hopi High School Classical Guitar Ensemble. Hopi High School is a federally-funded grant school built for and organized around the unique cultural identity of the Hopi people. The music program at Hopi is different than many school music programs, being centered around small ensembles and those in particular which will provide students a life-long involvement with music. The study of the classical guitar is a great avenue for the pursuit of music for students personally, and provides for them the tools needed to participate in a wide variety of musical styles in school, and after high school. The guitar ensemble at Hopi High School is a performing ensemble students enter by audition after one or more years of introductory study. The ensemble performs at a wide variety of venues including guitar festivals in California, New York, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. They will perform a short classical program of guitar concertos.
The evening will conclude with the contemporary sounds of Casper and the Mighty 602 Band. With the overwhelming success of his latest cd’s, Casper Lomayesva is a man on a musical mission. This Hopi / Dine’ native has spent the past years traveling throughout the country and abroad performing his unique reggae sound and exposing the realities of life on the reservation. He has performed at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival twice, the 2001 and 2009 American Indian Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC. and at Madison Square Garden in New York City for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration alongside Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews, just to name a few. Casper’s success lies in his unique musical vision, and it comes straight from the heart. His lyrics tell the stories of reservation life. The music is reggae with a blend of herbs and spices from a variety of musical influences. Same tree… different branch.
Any profits from this concert will be divided between the Hopi Educational Endowment Fund (www.hopieducationfund.org) for the purpose of raising funds for college scholarships, and the Verde Valley Archaeology Center’s capital campaign to build an archaeological campus near the site of an ancient pit house village that was saved from becoming a housing development. Tickets and additional information can be found at www.PECPAF.com.
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center is located at 385 S. Main St., Camp Verde. The museum exhibits are free to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. Additional information on the Center’s activities is available at www.vvarchcenter.org, or by calling 928-567-0066.