Arizona has 22 tribes within its boundaries. You can learn about these tribes’ rich culture and heritage – and maybe even pick up a piece of native art – at the many festivals and fairs that take place throughout the state each fall.
August: Suvoyuki Day
A cooperative effort – suvoyuki means “joint effort” in Hopi – between the Hopi people, Arizona State Parks and the Homolovi Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, Suvoyuki Day features archaeologist-led site tours and demonstrations of Hopi arts and crafts. Visitors can also watch traditional dances while munching on freshly roasted corn. The event is held on the first Saturday in August at Homolovi State Park near Winslow.
August: White Mountain Apache Tribal Fair & Rodeo
Since 1925, White Mountain Apaches have celebrated their cultural heritage at this weeklong event. In addition to the all-Indian rodeo, festivities include a parade, a frybread contest and a carnival. At night, attendees enjoy live music and fireworks. The event, held in Whiteriver, is one of the largest American Indian celebrations in the state.
September: CRIT Native American Days Fair & Expo
The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) host a three-day fair with traditional dance contests, pageants, a carnival and fireworks on the CRIT Reservation near Parker. Attendees can purchase arts and crafts as well as American Indian food and watch tribal members play peon, a traditional guessing game between two teams. There’s also a livestock expo.
September: Hopi All-Native Arts & Cultural Festival
What began in 2010 as a way to help Hopi artisans sell their arts and crafts has evolved into a major American Indian cultural festival, which attracts roughly 20,000 people over two days to Heritage Square in Flagstaff. Visitors can purchase authentic arts and crafts, dine on native cuisine and watch traditional dance performances. Hopi and other tribal artists and craftsmen will also be on hand to demonstrate weaving, Katsina doll carving and other skills.
September: Navajo Nation Fair
The annual Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock draws tribes and visitors from Arizona and beyond. The fair features a parade, a powwow, a carnival and an all-Indian rodeo with junior competitions and championship bull riding. There’s also a Navajo Nation Fair Baby Contest, a Miss Navajo Nation contest and a Wild Horse Race, plus midway games and carnival rides. Don’t miss the horticulture exhibits where participants compete in categories such as gardener of the year and best-tasting watermelon.
October: Tuuvi Gathering
Hopi, Zuni, Apache and other tribes from the Four Corners region share a weekend of arts, crafts and dancing near the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites in Tuba City. Come hungry to sample American Indian foods and prepare to spend the day browsing the booths of more than 200 arts and crafts vendors. The traditional and social dances of various tribes are highpoints of the gathering.
November: Orme Dam Victory Days
In mid-November, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation commemorates the successful end, on November 12, 1981, of their legal battle to block the construction of the proposed Orme Dam with a parade, an all-Indian rodeo, Yavapai Village and other festivities. Attendees can watch the powwow and gourd dancing, purchase arts and crafts and watch to live entertainment at the Fort McDowell Fairgrounds. There are also golf, softball and basketball tournaments.
November: San Carlos Veterans Fair and Rodeo
For 50 years, members of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation have gathered to celebrate their culture and to honor their veterans at the San Carlos Veterans Fair and Rodeo, held Veterans Day weekend. Highlights include the Veterans Day Parade through downtown San Carlos, the Miss San Carlos Apache Pageant and the rodeo. Concerts are held at Apache Gold Resort & Casino.