Many of the blog articles for this website are about places to see and things to do in Arizona and New Mexico. So why, I have to ask myself, have I never written an article on the Heard Museum let alone the Hoop Dancing Championship at The Heard Museum? Because, until recently, I had never visited this attraction. But it is definitely one of the most interesting cultural centers in Phoenix!
The Heard Museum is uniquely Arizonan. It focuses on the history, culture and traditions of the more than 39 tribes of indigenous peoples have molded the state into what it is today. According to Wikiepedia, more than one-fourth of the land area is designated as belonging to the Native American tribal nations.
But, until 1929, much of the history and culture of this segment of society was largely undocumented.
The Heard Museum’s paintings, artifacts, and exhibits date from pre-history artifacts to the present paintings and jewelry. Hopi katsina dolls, Navajo and Zuni jewelry, Southwestern ceramics, textiles and blankets, hand-woven baskets, and fine art are just some of the items found in the museum’s comprehension collection.
But it is not just the historical aspect that makes the Heard such an interesting attraction. They also have live events such as the upcoming Fair and Market, special exhibits and galleries, and the Hoop Dance Championship.
This year was the first time that we took in the Hoop Dancing Championship. We can understand why this annual competition is a favorite to participants and visitors alike. It’s a colorful celebration of tradition and diversity!
Hoop dancing is an inter-tribal dance that incorporates the use of anywhere from 4 to 15 hoops to represent artistic and geometric shapes such as animals, butterflies, and globes.
But this is not just a dance in the sense of the word that anyone can do it. Each participant trains for this event, as any athlete would for their particular sport. The choreography and costuming reflect the traditions of the tribe. Each performance is judged on rhythm, showmanship, precision, creativeness, and speed. The sheer athleticism of this event is worth going to see!
And, this event is not only for history buffs. This year, the youngest dancer is only 7 years old!
The Heard has two locations but the pictures accompanying this article were taken at the Central Avenue location in downtown.
I think you would agree that Arizona has a style all its own. Architecture, landscape, and cuisine are distinct and recognizable. This uniqueness is due, in part, to the large populations of indigenous peoples who have lived here for longer than Arizona and New Mexico have been states.
If you’re looking for something different to do that the kids would enjoy, you’ll want to take them to the famous Heard Museum.