Cultural Performers

Jay Begaye (Diné)

Jay Begaye was born in Steamboat Canyon, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. He is a round dance singer, leader of a pow-wow drum group, songwriter, painter, and sculptor. Additionally, Jay is an accomplished horseman and horse trainer and once competed in rodeos. After hearing the Snake River Singers at his first pow-wow, Jay was inspired to compose and sing his own songs. He first sang with the White Eagle Singers and later founded the Cathedral Lakes Singers, a Northern-style pow-wow group. His recordings for Canyon Records include The Beauty Way, Song of Colors, Night of the Northern Lights, and Horses Are Our Journey.

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.

Canyon Records

Canyon Records celebrates its 21st year as a Heard Fair sponsor, partner, producer, and technical services provider. Founded in 1951 by Ray and Mary Boley, Canyon is one of Arizona’s enduring cultural institutions as well as one of the oldest independent record labels in the country. An important commercial producer and supporter of Native music, artists, and culture, Canyon began as a lead sponsor of the Heard Fair in 2000 and later underwrote performances of Canyon artists in the amphitheater. In 2009, Canyon established the Courtyard Stage to present Canyon artists in a more intimate setting. Since 2013, Canyon has provided sound and lighting for the Best of Show reception and fashion show, and photography for the 2018 and 2019 World Championship Hoop Dance Contest.

Cellicion Traditional Zuni Dancers

Founded in 1983 by their late parents, the Cellicion Zuni Dancers entire dance group consists of 15 family members and is made up of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation performers. Under the direction of Fernando Cellicion, the group has become one of the top professional touring native Dance companies in the performing arts. World renowned for their performances of traditional Zuni social songs & dances the group has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. So far the dance group has been to 32 countries including 14 trips to Holland and 4 trips to Istanbul, Turkey. In 2007 the Cellicion Zuni Dancers became the 1st native Tribe to perform in the country of Mongolia. Notable performances include: The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress where their songs were placed in the national archives and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Director Fernando Cellicion, is also an internationally renowned flutist and recording artist with 12 recordings in Bordeaux, France. The group members are all fluent in the Zuni language and participate year round in their cultural community activities.

Doreen Duncan (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara)

Doreen C. Duncan, Co- founder of the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers (the family group name is derived from her Arikara matrilineal family from North Dakota), will lead a celebration of dance to honor the essential role Native women play in Native communities. Doreen, "Chief Woman", recognizes the powerful positive connection song & dance has to the Native way of life. Among the many Native communities, dance is used in healing, reinforcing unity, celebrating, expressing gratitude and acknowledging nature's life cycles. Dance is a form of prayer, storytelling and teaching. The presentation will include a diverse representation of tribes from the Southwest but will also include dances from the Pow Wow circle.

Tony Duncan (Apache, Arikara and Hidatsa)

Tony Duncan 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 received the Artist of the Year Award at the Native American Music Awards. 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 has 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.” In 2019 he was a recipient of a Dance/USA Fellowship, selected during an extremely rigorous process as one of 31 fellows by a ten-person panel. Tony was also the Lead Artist with the Mesa Arts Center on the Public Art installation: Water = Life. This project was created to discover, explore and celebrate the history and future of water in the Valley.

“The hoop is a very important teaching tool in sharing the traditional knowledge that has been handed down to me from my grandfather and father. I am inspired by the hoop dance and everything it has to teach us about having a balanced lifestyle. Sharing the teachings of the hoop dance and the importance of balance motivates me to continue my work in the arts.” - Tony Duncan

Violet Duncan (Plains Cree and Taíno)

Violet Duncan, from Kehewin Cree Nation, is a former Miss Indian World. 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. Fall 2019 Violet collaborated with the Heard Museum on the School tour “I am Native”. “I am Native” offered auditorium dance presentation and interactive classroom workshops. Violet was Co-Lead with the Mesa Arts Center on the Public Art installation: Water = Life. This project was created to discover, explore and celebrate the history and future of water in the Valley. Violet is the author and illustrator of children’s books Young Warriors Books. Her new book I am Native, shares a glimpse into the wonderful work of a multigenerational Native family. This book showcases beautiful imagery of family members passing down traditions in both traditional and modern ways. She is currently a professor at the South Mountain Community College: Storytelling institute. You can find her sharing her curriculum “I am Native: Lesson Plans” to help educators gain more insight into a culturally literate classroom.

“To share the dances, stories and songs of Mother Earth, is the knowledge that has been entrusted to me. I feel this sacred way of teaching is my responsibility as a mother.” - Violet Duncan

William Eaton

William Eaton 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.

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.

Audriana Mitchell (a Navajo member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes)

Audriana Mitchell is the 2019-2020 Miss Indian Arizona. She is majoring in communications at Mesa Community College and is the President of the Inter-Tribal Student Organization. She put her love of music and her culture together and started learning to sing songs in Navajo. Miss Indian Arizona serves for one year as an Ambassador for all Arizona Tribes and as a role model to Arizona Indian youth. Audriana won the Best Evening Wear award and a $5,000 scholarship. The Miss Indian Arizona Association Scholarship Program focuses on academics and community service. The program presents Arizona Indian traditional principles and values through songs, dance, stories, dress, and humor in six categories: interview, talent (contemporary or traditional), evening gown, traditional dress, oral presentation, and personal interviews. Each participant receives a scholarship at some level.

Ryon Polequaptewa (Hopi, of the Sun Clan)

Ryon Polequaptewa, leader of the Thunder Boy Dance Group, was born to the Sun Clan of Shungopavi Village. Hopi songs and dances were a big part of his childhood. Currently living in Phoenix, AZ, Ryon and his friends and family get together and teach Hopi youth their culture. The group has danced the Santa Domingo Butterfly dance for various functions, including at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Heard Museum, Montezuma Castle. Dances include the Hopi Butterfly Dance which is to help restore balance and harmony. It also pays special gratitude to the insect people who help pollinate the plants. These dances bring moisture to our home lands here in the desert. Water is life. So come sing, dance and pray with us for a healthy life. Kwakwa -Thank you.

Kenneth Shirley (Diné)

Shirley is the founder and CEO of Indigenous Enterprise. Representing many nations, Indigenous Enterprise uses the beauty and energy of pow-wow style dance to educate the public about the proud traditions and dynamic creativity of modern Native American artists. He graduated with his bachelors in arts from Arizona State University in 2018. As a filmmaker and dancer, he has collaborated with The Black Eyed Peas, Micky Free and the Sydney Opera House.

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.

The Women Dance, Beautifully

See Doreen C. Duncan

Aaron White (Navajo-Ute)

Aaron White has been one of Arizona’s busiest musicians for the past 30 years, performing guitar and Native American flute throughout the state and nationally. Aaron is a regular performer at the Wild Horse Pass Resort near Phoenix and has performed with Jackson Browne, John Densmore (The Doors), Bruce Cockburn, and Taj Mahal. Aaron is also an accomplished Native American flutist and flutemaker, performing the traditional flute regularly in concert and at museums and resorts. His recordings for Canyon Records include Burning Sky, Blood of the Land, Creation, A Simple Man, GRAMMY® nominated Spirits in the Wind, and Moonlight Love Songs.

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Huichol)

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and lived and studied with his Huichol relatives in the mountains of Jalisco and Nayarit. Xavier performs and makes pre-Columbian-style instruments based on Mayan and Aztec flutes only found in museums as well as turtle-shell and log drums, rainsticks, and rattles. He revived the death whistle, a skull shaped clay whistle which produces an eerily shrill sound used in battle to intimidate enemies. After moving to Los Angeles, Xavier created America Indigena, an ensemble specializing in the music and dance of native Mexicá, and now lives in Peoria, Arizona. His recordings for Canyon Records include Crossroads and Aztec Dances.