FEATHERS TO THE SKY: Anthony Parker, Champion Pow Wow Dancer

Omaha Indian Dancer Anthony Parker and Approaching Storm, Sunset,San Marcos, New Mexico 2007 Photograph ©Craig Varjabedian

The 2012 SWAIA Indian Market opened this morning; the 91st time this annual event has taken place on the historic plaza in Santa Fe. Native Americans from all over the country descend on our “City Different” to display and sell their amazing and varied artworks. And people from all over the world make their way to our little town to see and purchase these beautiful creations. I like to get to the plaza early on Saturday morning to avoid the crowds, enjoy the beautiful morning light and have a closer look at many of the wonderful pieces of art on display.

Walking around the plaza this morning I viewed a woman walking with a Katchina doll; a treasure I'm sure she purchased from one of the assembled artists. Watching her and her prize briefly as we strolled through the crowd in the golden morning light reminded me of my friend Anthony Parker, a champion pow wow dancer from the Omaha tribe who now lives in Albuquerque. Besides being an award-winning dancer who honors and remembers the old ways, Anthony is also an actor who has appeared in several films and television programs. I am pleased that Anthony agreed a few years back to model in his full traditional regalia for a photography workshop I was teaching for Eloquent Light Photography Workshops in Santa Fe.

It seems that the word Omaha means “those going against the wind.” On the day I made this picture, a storm was building in the western sky and I remember Anthony standing out on that plain, the wind attempting to send his eagle-feathered head dress back to the sky. As I look at this picture and remember the day that I made it, I think the name Omaha seems like a fitting one and that Anthony so honors these resilient and incredible Native American people.

Anthony Parker and Family, San Marcos, New Mexico  2007  Photograph ©Craig Varajabedian