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National Treasures: Culture Bearers in National Parks

The National Council for the Traditional Arts is proud to announce the launch of National Treasures: A Tour of Culture Bearers in National Parks. A pilot program of the 2026 United States Semiquincentennial and collaboration with the National Park Service, National Treasures showcases the nation’s most distinguished cultural ambassadors at signature National Parks throughout the American landscape. The program highlights recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor awarded to folk and traditional artists. By connecting Fellows and their collaborators with historically and geographically significant national landmarks, National Treasures invites compelling new conversations and fresh narratives about American heritage and identity.

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Up next:

November 8, 11 & 29, 2023
On several days in November, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow TahNibaa Naataanii will be in residence at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, in Chinle, Arizona. In celebration of National Native American Heritage Month, TahNibaa will be leading three different activities centered around Navajo wool weaving and dyeing.

November 8: Navajo weaving presentation (Noon-3PM, open to the public)
A public presentation on the history of different Navajo twill weaving patterns from the utilitarian garments and items that were woven in the early years, to the different regional patterns developed with the introduction of the Trading Posts and the Diné people weaving patterns being created today.  

November 11 : Processing-wool workshop (10AM-3PM, 1 hour lunch, 5 students)
A workshop about traditional Navajo wool processing: how to identify a fleece from the Churro heritage breed (and other breeds), washing the wool, carding the wool and spinning the wool. 

November 29: Plant-dyeing workshop (10AM-4PM, 1 hour lunch, 8 students)
A hands-on workshop about using natural materials for dyeing wool, including collecting local plants in the canyon and surrounding areas; understanding natural traditional mordants such as alum, cedar ash, lemon juice and lime juice; and learning how different sources of water affect color.

For more information about each session and/or to RSVP: ravis_henry@nps.gov

Past events: 

November 4, 2023
On November 4, 2010 National Heritage Fellow and master Afro-Cuban drummer and batá drum-maker Ezequiel Torres will be at CultureFest 305 presented by HistoryMiami Museum. Ezequiel will share experiences from his visit to the Everglades National Park, offer demonstrations of his drum-making, as well as a live performance of Afro-Cuban music and dance.

For the full festival schedule or more information on Ezequiel’s program: Ezequiel Torres at CultureFest 305

October 13-15, 2023
2022 National Heritage Fellow and quelbe musician Stanley Jacobs and his band, Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights, are featured at the 19th Richmond Folk Festival.

Presented at the Richmond National Battlefield Park in Richmond, Virginia.

July 29 & 30, 2023
Featured National Heritage Fellows at the 36th Lowell Folk Festival:
members of Trian:
Fiddler Liz Carroll (1994)
Accordionist Billy McComiskey (2016)

Presented at the Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts.

July 7-16, 2023
From July 7 through July 16, 2023, 2020 NEA National Heritage Fellow Karen Ann Hoffman will be in residence at the Pipestone National Monument, in Pipestone, Minnesota. Karen Ann will spend the week connecting with the landscapes of the park and quarrying for stones specific to the Pipestone to inform and create new Haudenosaunee raised beadwork pieces, which she has been recognized for. As education and transmission is central to her work, Karen Ann will work with youth groups during her time at the Park, teaching basic beading techniques and sharing some of the ancestral knowledge and intention behind her practice. Park visitors are welcomed to meet and greet Karen Ann at the Cultural Demonstration Area, and even learn how to craft pieces of their own during regular park hours from July 8-9 and July 12-16.

To learn more about getting to the park or Karen Ann’s Residency: Karen Ann at Pipestone National Monument

June 17, 2023
On June 17, 2023, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow Michael Cleveland will perform with his band Flamekeeper at the Blue Ridge Music Center, with opening act by the Crooked Road Ramblers. This will be an unforgettable evening of hard-driving bluegrass and high energy old-time country music. Together they honor Michael’s decades long groundbreaking career and contributions to old-time and bluegrass traditions.

April 1, 2023
On Saturday, April 1, 2023, National Treasures will present 2015 National Heritage Fellow Yary Livan at the iconic Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts. The event will showcase Yary’s work, a rare and beautiful display from this master Cambodian ceramicist, who has been sculpting and teaching in the United States for over two decades. As part of a larger celebration honoring Cambodian Heritage Month, the evening will feature performances by the Angkor Dance Troupe and the Wong Pleng Khmer Band, who, along with Yary, are beloved representatives of Lowell’s thriving Cambodian community.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held from 5:30-8:00pm ET at the visitor center of the Lowell National Historical Park, located at 246 Market Street. Translation and interpretive services will be provided by the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA). RSVP is required for program updates and planning purposes. Register at nationaltreasures@ncta-usa.org, and visit https://ncta-usa.org/nationaltreasures/ for more information.

March 7-11, 2023

From March 7-11, 2023, National Treasures will present a series of programs that engage Louisiana-based National Heritage Fellows in partnership with three National Park Service locations within the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve network in southern Louisiana: the French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, and Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux. 

This exciting series will feature:

The Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble (2021 National Heritage Fellows)
Recipients of the 2022 National Heritage Fellowship, this women-led African American spiritual group is rooted in both Christian worship and the West African-derived ring shout tradition. They will appear at Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux on March 7.

The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band (1985 and 2005 National Heritage Fellows)
This trio comprised of accordion maker, musician, and 1985 National Heritage Fellow Marc Savoy, renowned musician and vocalist Ann Savoy, both of Eunice, and fiddler, composer, and 2005 National Heritage Fellow Michael Doucet of Lafayette will perform in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans on March 8.

Chief Shaka Zulu (2022 National Heritage Fellow)
New Orleans Black Masking craftsman, stilt dancer, and musician Chief Shaka Zulu will demonstrate his artistry March 10 at downtown Lafayette’s Downtown Alive! street fair, and March 11 at the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette. 

Event Photo Album

December 16, 2022
A celebration of flamenco artist, educator, and 2022 National Heritage Fellow Eva Enciñias: This honorary reception and NEA film screening takes place on opening night of the National Institute of Flamenco‘s holiday production, La Estrella. Presented in partnership with Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

October 7-9, 2022
Featured performers at the Richmond Folk Festival:
Mississippi hill country blues musician and 2021 National Heritage Fellow Cedric Burnside
Gospel artists and 2022 National Heritage Fellows the Legendary Ingramettes

Presented at Richmond Battlefield National Historical Park in Richmond, Virginia

 

September 3, 2022
Guitarist, luthier, and 1995 National Heritage Fellow Wayne Henderson
Presented as part of part of the Roots of the American Music Summer Concert Series at Blue Ridge Parkway’s Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia

July 29-31, 2022
Featured National Heritage Fellows at the 35th annual Lowell Folk Festival:
Malian balafon master Balla Kouyaté (2019)
Irish flute and whistle player Joanie Madden (2021)
Puerto Rican bomba y plena master Juan Gutiérrez (1996)
New Orleans brass ensemble Treme Brass Band (2006)
Presented at Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts

July 6, 2022
Iraqi oud master and 2015 National Heritage Fellow Rahim Alhaj
Presented at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico

June 10, 2022 

Special Performance:
Puerto Rican percussion master and 1996 National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutiérrez
Presented at San Juan National Historical Park in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Held in conjunction with Tito Fest (June 11, 2022 in Santurce, Puerto Rico)

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*Banner photo: The Virginia Indian Intertribal Dance Group & Drum kicks off the 69th National Folk Festival at Richmond National Battlefield Park in Richmond, VA. Photo courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch, 2007.