Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Pathways Indigenous Arts Festival Brings Art, Film, and Music


Sage Cornelius (Oneida/Navajo/ Potawatomi) performs on the outdoor stage.

Santa Fe, NM — Laughter, music, and happy reunions marked the 2023 Pathways Indigenous Arts Festival at Buffalo Thunder Casino, August 18 to 20, 2023. The festival showcases hundreds of artists, crafters, and vendors — from painters and potters to Indigenous makeup and skincare brands. In addition to vibrant indoor and outdoor market spaces, the event features two stages of music and an Indigenous film festival.

“It’s been so lovely to be back in Santa Fe, especially at this market,” said accessories designer Delaney Keshena (Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin), who traveled from Minnesota for the festival. “The setup was so easy. All 0f the work that the staff and volunteers did on the back end to get it ready for artists was just phenomenal.”

Keshena is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She brought handmade canvas and vegetable-tanned leather bags printed with cyanotype to Pathways.  Keshena learned to hand stitch leather during a residency with leather worker Beth Dow (founder of Fieldwork Goods) at the North House Folk School in Minnesota.

Delaney Keshena (Menominee) with her cyanotype bag.

“Of course, I know people who I met when I was here on campus for IAIA, and I also do a lot of work up in Canada, so it’s just been so sweet to see everybody,” she said. “It’s a wonderful time to be at Indian Market when you’ve got friends around!”

Pathways veteran Leander Begay, a Navajo visual artist and skateboard designer, agrees.

“I have a blast here. It’s always about old friends, people we haven’t seen in so long…. You just laugh with the people. It’s good to laugh. I’ve been laughing all weekend — I’m tired, and it’s only the second day!

Begay’s work is diverse.

“I travel all over the place,” he said. “Since I’m Navajo, some of my work is specifically Navajo, but some of it is for other places that I’ve traveled. I think globally, not just within my reservation. I’ve had a website for about four years, and I do ship to about half the globe now.”

Leander Begay (Navajo) with skateboards he designs.

Begay has been a visual artist for many years, but putting designs onto skateboards was part of a healing process after a difficult youth that included addiction and jail time.

“I started painting skateboards nine years ago,” he said. “At that time, I had been sober for about eight years, and then I got bored. If you’re going to continue not drinking, you have to keep from being bored. I thought, ‘I used to skate. Let me get back on.’ The first two boards I made sold immediately, and a lightbulb went off.”

Now, he has shipped thousands of boards all over the world from the hogan he built near his parents in Steamboat, Arizona. The boards are for everyone.

“I skate, so I know the wood that works well,” he said. “I use Canadian maple. It takes longer to get it, but it’s worth it. I try to make the products really good so the kids can beat up the skateboards, but the boards also look good enough for an executive to put on the wall. I put a lot of care and love into all of my work.”


Lillandra Ayla, Shaun, and Jacqueline Beyale (all Navajo), Pathways 2023

Lilly Ayla Beyale (Navajo) is an 11-year-old illustrator participating in her first-ever art market, sharing a booth with her father, illustrator Shaun Beyale.

illy Beyale, who hopes to become an animator someday, does Japanese anime-inspired illustrations.

“I already think about doing art as my job,” she said. “Ever since I was young, I always looked up to my dad because he’s an artist.”

Asked if she had sold many prints yet, she said she had actually sold out of her original character, a demon called Hana, which is the Japanese word for “flower.”

“Yeah, I’ve sold some stuff,” she said. “We got some bank!”

Karl Duncan

Pathways organizer and Poeh Cultural Center Executive Director Karl Duncan (Arikara/Hidatsa/ Mandan/San Carlos Apache). Photo: FAAM

With a full slate of performers on both inside and outside stages, film screenings happening all day long, and crafting areas for children (and adults!), Pathways is a friendly, laidback festival and a great addition to Santa Fe’s Indian Art Week.


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