“Gallup is a great area for visitors because it offers an authentic, condensed version of the New Mexico experience,” says Jennifer Lazarz, the tourism and marketing manager for the City of Gallup. “It’s a one-stop-shop for unique outdoor adventures—there are over 30 miles of trails in the area—and immersion in Native American culture.”
The city, which is located on Interstate 40 and the fabled Route 66 halfway between Flagstaff, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, is home to a number of native groups. During a visit, travelers can learn more about how the Navajo/Diné, Apache, Zuni, Hopi and others tribes blend hundreds of years of traditions with everyday life.
“The unique Native American experiences offered in Gallup are a great way to see how native culture is alive and well,” she says. “Events such as the Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial or the Nightly Indian Dances allow you to get up close and personal with the native tribes and dancers. The tribes explain the dances and traditions, and guests can ask questions about regalia and the dances themselves, and can often join in on the dances and take lots of pictures.”
The Inter-tribal Ceremonial, which marks its 97th year in 2018, is the oldest Native American cultural celebration in the U.S. Taking place this Aug. 3–12, the event includes parades, a rodeo, a powwow, traditional dancing, and an arts and crafts area featuring hundreds of jewelry makers.
The Nightly Indian Dances are a series of free performances held each evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Guests gather in the heart of downtown at Gallup’s historical courthouse to watch tribe members demonstrate ceremonial dances.
“Additionally, we have the finest in Native American arts, as over 70 percent of the world’s authentic Native American jewelry comes from the Gallup region,” Lazarz says. “The Gallup Native Arts Market allows guests to shop authentic Native American art, and [purchases] support over 1,000 people, as well as the soft-goods arts economy that is the so important here.”
The Native Arts Market features more than 75 authentic Native American artists from all the tribes in the region, who display and sell their handcrafted items. This is the second year for the event, and it will be held Aug. 9–11.
Top photo by City of Gallup