IN THE SPIRIT Festival This Saturday

The summer is winding down, but there are still plenty of incredible festivals to be enjoyed before fall arrives! This week, we are looking towards the annual IN THE SPIRIT Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival. The festival will be held in person on Saturday, August 7, from 10:00 AM–5:00 PM in the Tacoma Museum District. This beloved summer tradition celebrates the diverse Native cultures of our region and is hosted by the Washington State History MuseumTacoma Art Museum, and Museum of Glass. The indoor/outdoor event is free and open to the public, including free admission to all three museums.

IN THE SPIRIT festival guests can see exhibitions featuring Native artists in the museums; talk with artist vendors and shop for original art, jewelry, textiles, and other hand-crafted products; participate in art-making activities at all three museums; watch artists work in the Hot Shop at MOG; and enjoy cultural musicians and dancers in the outdoor amphitheater at the History Museum. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the TAM Cafe, and the Price Family (Navajo/Port Gamble S’Klallam) will sell their famous fry bread tacos at the History Museum.

Indigenous dance, music, and artist demonstrations are a festival highlight. The Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers (Haida and Tlingit) have participated every year since IN THE SPIRIT began 16 years ago (with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic). Returning favorites also include musician Vince Redhouse (Navajo) on Navajo flute and Rona Yellow Robe (Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana), an award-winning flute player and vocalist. Artist Raya Friday (Lummi Nation) will be on deck in MOG’s Hot Shop, creating with molten glass. ”I’d like to give a big hysh’qe to the big three museums of Tacoma – MOG TAM, WSHM – for carving a space and amplifying the voices of Indigenous artists like myself. Thank you for the opportunity,” Friday shared.

“The museums have been working with Native artists, curators, and community members through the IN THE SPIRIT Advisory Committee to develop a gathering where our visitors and artists can safely reconnect and celebrate in person,” said Molly Wilmoth, lead program manager at the Washington State Historical Society. “We are grateful for all of the talented artists and vendors who are participating both in-person and virtually. Along with the outdoor arts market and cultural performances, we welcome guests to view the exhibitions in the museums, including the 16th annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition at the History Museum. Visitors can vote in the gallery for the coveted People’s Choice awards.”

“Last year, the IN THE SPIRIT festival went fully online and was extended for a month-long period,” added Amelia Layton, public programs manager at Tacoma Art Museum. “We’re thrilled to be back in person this year to support Native artists. We’re also continuing with some online programming. The August 7 in-person festival is accompanied by an online arts market and several virtual programs that run July 30 through September 3, so we can provide even greater access to the outstanding Native artists of our region.”

Be sure to mark your calendars for the annual festival this Saturday!