The Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

First held in 1922, the Ceremonial is one of New Mexico’s oldest events and one of the longest running celebrations of Native American and Indigenous culture on the planet.

Navajo song and dance at the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial

Each day of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial features a musical performance.

Courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department

Every year, Native Americans and Indigenous peoples from all around the world congregate in Gallup, New Mexico, to participate in one of the largest celebrations of its kind, the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial. This year, the meetup is ringing in its centennial with a schedule of events that include musical performances and a rodeo that will roll out over a course of 11 days (both in-person and virtually) from August 4 to August 14.

The Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial is hosted annually at the scenic Red Rock Park located about an hour outside of Gallup. For years, the town has been historically regarded as a gateway to Native American culture thanks to its close proximity to the Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo, and Hopi reservations. The event was established with the intention to showcase, promote, and preserve Native American traditions and crafts. Over the years as it became more popular, it expanded to include Indigenous people throughout North America to as far away as New Zealand. Tickets for the entire 11-day celebration are on sale for $90, although individual day and event tickets are also available.

The theme for this year's Ceremonial is "One World Beat," which meant to celebrate the song and dance traditions of Indigenous cultures all around the world.

The theme for this year’s Ceremonial is “One World Beat,” which means to celebrate the song and dance traditions of Indigenous cultures all around the world.

Courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department

The Ceremonial is kicking things off with a parade on August 4 at 7 p.m. in downtown Gallup. This year, the theme of the festival is “One World Beat,” which is intended to showcase the songs and dances of various Indigenous cultures, from Yup’ik dance to ferocious Māori haka (or war chants). Attendees can also look forward to events like the Ceremonial Queen pageant, where young women compete to become an ambassador for both the Ceremonial and Native American and Indigenous cultures for a year, rodeo events like barrel racing, calf roping, and bull riding that span five days, plus film screenings. For those who may be interested in buying trinkets, there will be an on-site artisan market, as well as a virtual one, which will open on August 4, where things like clothing, soaps, and jewelry will be on sale.

This year’s Ceremonial will be the largest held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, all festivities were completely canceled while in 2021, the event lasted only one week.

“It is important to note, in 1922, and now in 2022, the world was overcoming a pandemic,” Melissa Sanchez, executive director for the Intertribal Ceremonial Office, said in a press release. “Historically, the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial has always been instrumental in bringing people together, then and now.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at AFAR. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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