Cultural Performers

Jay Begaye (Diné)

Jay Begaye (Diné) is an award-winning drummer, singer, songwriter, as well as a painter, sculptor and former rodeo contestant. Born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in Steamboat Canyon, Arizona, Jay donates a great deal of time helping youth on the Navajo Reservation.

Upon hearing the Snake River Singers at his first pow-wow in Salt Lake City, Jay had an irresistible urge to compose and sing his own songs. He first sang with a noted drum group, the White Eagle Singers. He is the founder of the renowned pow wow group Cathedral Lakes Singers and has also won recognition as a soloist. He has released popular albums on the Sounds of America Records (SOAR) and Canyon Records labels. His musical awards include NAMMY, Indian Summer Music Awards, AFIM Indie Awards, and a Grammy nomination for a Pow Wow recording.

Jay lives with his wife Loretta and young son, Sonsiila in Ganado, Arizona.

Dennis Bowen Sr., Seneca, of the Bear Clan

Dennis Bowen Sr., Seneca, of the Bear Clan has made his career in human services focused on youth and family wellness. In his early years, he experienced the trauma of United States breaking one of the oldest treaties with the construction of the Kinzua Dam in 1964 on the Seneca Allegany Territory. From that time, he has always maintained an intense commitment to the people and homeland. He is the former elected President of the Seneca Nation in New York from 1994-1996. During that time, he won a sovereignty court case, Bowen vs. Doyle, in February 1995. He developed the Nine-Voices Cultural Prevention Model to promote the many voices of Indian communities. He is a certified trainer to the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training developed by the Living Works Company. He has been involved in philanthropy work with the SEVA Foundation, where he served as one of the first American Indians to chair an international foundation. Bowen is a traditional singer, artist and has been working as a pow wow MC for over 43 years all across Turtle Island. Bowen retired in 2013 from the Tuba City Unified School District on the Western Navajo Nation. He now devotes his time as a care giver to his family in upstate New York. Bowen is a father of two and grandfather of three. He makes his home on the Seneca Allegany reservation in western New York and Tuba City, Arizona with his wife of 46 years, Alita Bennett Bowen.

Cha'Bii'Tu Apache Crown Dancers

The Cha'Bii'Tu Apache Crown Dance Group represent the town of McNary, AZ as well as the White Mountain Apache Tribe. They've been in many parades far and near, entertained at various events, and entered many events on the Apache reservations.  They have won many awards in the Dance Group Category in competitions in the Southwest. 

Ken Duncan, Sr. (Apache)

Ken is an Apache Native of Arizona and a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an accomplished cultural teacher, flute player and storyteller. Ken is the Founder and Director of a family based business, Yellow Bird Productions. Yellow Bird has made appearances at the Kennedy Center, The Tonight Show, The Billboard Music Award Show and the Summer Olympics in London, England.

Ken’s illustrious career includes serving as a Native American consultant to the United Nations, Geneva Switzerland; the U. S. State Department; the Summer Olympics, London England; and Lebanon Tourism, Beirut. He has also been a Goodwill Ambassador with the U. S. Department of Defense. Ken performed as an Apache Storyteller and Musician at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens, the Arizona Science Center and the Heard Museum. He has also served as a Cultural and Historical Advisor to the Arizona Historical Museum and a Cultural Arts Teacher with the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Phoenix Arts Commission.

Ken was honored with the Culture Keeper of Arizona Award in 2004 and Arizona Native American Business of the Year Award in 2016.

Tony Duncan (Apache, Arikara and Hidatsa)

Tony has performed for audiences worldwide including performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Smithsonian Museum, The Billboard Music Awards, The Tonight Show, and The White House. Duncan was the 2013-14 Native American Music Awards Artist of the Year. As a flute player, he is currently signed to the largest Native American music label Canyon Records. Duncan has toured with acclaimed Native American artists such as R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah, as well as across Europe and Asia with international pop star, Nelly Furtado. He enchanted over 100,000 people in Paris, London, Tokyo, Manila, Switzerland and the Island of Malta with his hoop dancing and flute playing. He is the featured dancer on Nelly Furtado's music video, "Big Hoops.”

Violet Duncan (Plains Cree and Taino)

Violet, from Kehewin, Alberta, Canada, was Miss Indian World 2012. As such, she represented all indigenous people of North America. Violet combines traditional dance styles and storytelling to tell stories passed down from generation to generation. She has performed for audiences across the United States, Canada and Europe. Violet is the author and illustrator of The Sweet Violet Series of children’s books. When We Dance tells about a mother passing down traditional teachings through oral history and dance to her daughter. The girl is taught that dance is a way to connect with all things and through dance they can truly appreciate the beauty all around them. Let's Hoop Dance, is a delightful father and son story about sharing the gift of the Hoop Dance inspired by Violet watching the passion and determination in her son when he danced with his father, five-time World Champion Hoop Dancer, Tony Duncan. Violet lives with her husband and four young children in Arizona.

William Eaton

William designs and builds innovative guitars and stringed instruments and is a founder and Director of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, in Phoenix, AZ. A four time GRAMMY nominee Eaton has recorded 16 albums for Canyon Records and tours nationally and internationally. In 2015 he received the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award in the ‘artist’ category. Eaton has composed for and performed with the William Eaton Ensemble, Nouveau West Chamber Orchestra, Nebraska Chamber Orchestra and Amadeus Trio among others. He has performed and collaborated with R. Carlos Nakai, Will Clipman, Claudia Tulip, Allen Ames, Mary Redhouse, Arvel Bird, Edgar Meyer, Anthony Mazzella and Fitzhugh Jenkins. Along with his wife Christine, William is the co-Director of Old Town Center for the Arts, in Cottonwood, Arizona.

First Nations Warrior Society Color Guard

Led by Michael Smith, the Color Guard is comprised of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine veterans. This group of Native American veterans has proudly presented the colors at the Heard Guild Fair for many years.

Crystal Littleben (Navajo)

Crystal Littlben, the 71st Naabeehó Bich’eeke’ (Miss Navajo), was crowned after a rigorous contest that included sheep butchering, traditional food preparation and a question and answer session. Crystal has a degree in psychology with an emphasis in Native American studies from Northern Arizona University. “My platform for Miss Navajo is holistic well-being,” said Littleben. “It comes with many components – physically, mentally, and emotionally – and each component you can do. I feel it’s important for us to know this and create that balance.”

Jonah Littlesunday (Navajo)

Native American flutist Jonah Littlesunday has joined famed Canyon Records as a recording artist! A full-blooded Navajo from Grey Mountain, Arizona, Jonah Littlesunday has been playing the Native American Flute since the age of 14. Jonah gained media attention when he journeyed to Los Angeles to audition for NBC’s America’s Got Talent Season 10. The experience refocused Jonah on his musical career and since then he has performed across the country. He performed at the Gathering of the North American Flute in Flagstaff, Arizona alongside fellow Canyon artists GRAMMY-nominee R. Carlos Nakai and Tony Duncan and also shared the stage with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. Canyon Records reports that they are “honored to be working with Jonah and look forward to bringing Jonah’s artistry to a wider audience.” His recording, “Gratitude” is his debut album released by Canyon Records.

Eric Manuelito

Eric Manuelito is the Arena Director, an addition to the Amphitheater stage in 2015. Eric brings national experience to our event – he has served as Head Man, Arena Manager, educator, flute player and more. Eric will offer the morning prayer at the Opening Ceremony.

Kenneth Shirley (Diné)/ Indigenous Enterprises

Kenneth is CEO & Founder of Indigenous Enterprises which represents many Indigenous people, tribes, and Nations from all over Canada and the United States. The company shows the proud Native traditions and cultures through world champion dancing, filmmaking, and fashion. Kenneth has danced and performed for audiences from coast to coast. In 2014, he performed weekly for thousands of tourists from all over the world with “Spirit of the Mist” in Niagara Falls, New York. A champion dancer within powwows, Kenneth is also a junior in college majoring in film production.

Moontee Sinquah (Hopi/Tewa/Choctaw)

Moontee Sinquah (Hopi/Tewa/Choctaw) is a well-known singer, flutist, dancer, drum maker, and artist. He also is a music producer and has co-written songs with other award-winning Native American artists. Moontee is a champion Hoop Dancer and Grass Dancer. He has performed with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bonnie Raitt, and many others and is owner of Moontee’s Monster House Music.

Sinquah Family Dance Troupe (Hopi/Tewa/Choctaw) features the family trio Sampson, Scott, and Moontee who enjoy sharing their dance styles and songs. In addition to Hoop Dance, the group also performs Men’s Fancy War Dance, Men’s Grass Dance, and the audience participation Friendship Dance. The group has toured and performed throughout Europe, Canada, and the U.S.

Clark Tenakhongva (Hopi)

Clark Tenakhongva (Hopi), of the Rabbit and Tobacco clans, was born at Keams Canyon, Arizona and hails from the village of Hoat ‘ve’la (Hotevilla), “Place of Cedars,” on Third Mesa. He passionately follows the tradition of the Hopi and hosts a radio show in Hopi that features songs, oral history, and winter story-telling. Since the age of 12, Clark has carved Katsinas in the traditional style.

Clark’s debut recording, “Hear My Song, Hear My Prayer, was a finalist for Best Traditional Recording at the 2005 Native American Music Awards. He is a two- time Indian Summer Music Award (ISMA) nominee. “Hoat’Ve’La” was a nominee for Best Traditional Album in 2006 and “Po’li” was a finalist in 2008.   

Clark served in the U. S. Army for ten years, has been actively involved in tribal government, and is employed in the Office of Veterans’ Outreach Services. He and his wife Ann Youvella, from Walpi Village on First Mesa, have four children.   

 

Thunder Springs Drum Group (Hopi)

Thunder Springs Northern Drum Circle, led by Lamon Barehand (Hopi/Pima) is prominent in the opening and closing ceremonies. The Hopi drum group includes Lamar Barehand, Lamon Barehand, Budge Mahle and Nate Barehand.

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Huichol)

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco of Huichol heritage (his indigenous name, “Yxayotl” is Nahuatl for “tears”). In the 1970s, he moved to the mountains of Jalisco and Nayarit in Mexico to live with his Huichol relatives and the Tepehaunes people. He studied and played pre-Columbian instruments, participating in ceremonies and rituals. 

Xavier developed a passion for making museum quality indigenous instruments-Mayan and Aztec drums and flutes, turtle shell drums, rainsticks, log drums, rattles and gourds. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s and founded “America Indigena,” a performance group which specializes in the music, instruments and dances of native Mexico.

His Canyon Record recordings include Crossroads with Robert Tree Cody, Singing Earth, Aztec Dances and Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses