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Native Now Festival at Deer Valley Rock Art Center Rescheduled

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Late last year, Arizona State University's Deer Valley Rock Art Center had to postpone the Native Now Festival, which originally was scheduled for Saturday, November 23, due to rain. The festival was part of the 31st annual Native American Recognition Days, which usually are celebrated by various nonprofit organizations and other community groups throughout Arizona during October and November.

But those who were looking forward to catching music from Shining Soul and performances by artist and educator Melanie Sainz are in luck. The festival has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 8, at Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

See also: Native Now Festival Artists Talk Indigenous Culture and The Native Identity Today

The festival is meant to explore what it means to be indigenous in Arizona today through music, live performances, film screenings, and food. The artistic and cultural works in the festivals were included because they "make sense of contrasting indigenous voices, experiences, and knowledge."

As far as the music goes, performers will include Shining Soul, an Arizona-based hip-hop duo who "use vintage beats and empowering rhymes to bring to light the social injustices that affect the daily lives of indigenous and immigrant communities." They'll be joined by artist Bryon Fenix. Fenix is senior producer and host of Soul Deluxe, a weekly radio program that spotlights soul music in various genres and emerging artists and musicians.

Award-winning filmmakers Dustinn Craig and Velma Kee Craig will screen three of their works at the festival: I Belong to This, a 17-minute documentary produced for a 2003 PBS series called Matters of Race; In This Manner I Am, an animated work based on a poem; and Interview with Einstein, a short comedy that stars the the couple's children and dog.

"We create things for our community," Velma said of the works back in November. "But we also don't want all of our stores to be centered around the fact the fact that we're native. We're also human and we have the same types of experiences as the rest of the population."

Live performances will include "My Transformation," during which Melanie Sainz -- an educator and former Miss Indian America -- uses the juxtaposition of traditional native regalia and modern clothes to discuss the reality of native people, which she says have been "trophy-ized" by being used as mascots and in popular culture.

Other things attendees can look forward to include Diné-inspired food prepared by Chef Harrison Watchman, community art projects by Morning Star Leadership Foundation, art demonstrations by Arizona indigenous artists, and food from Emerson Fry Bread food truck.

Admission to the Native Now Festival is free. It will be held on Saturday, February 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ASU Deer Valley Rock Art Center. For more information, visit the DVRAC website.

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