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Photo of Zuni Olla woman in traditional clothing with a jar on her head
Zuni Olla maiden from Pueblo of Zuni, NM, in traditional clothing at Native American Arts Festival, April 1998

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Annual Native American Arts Festival
A Local Legacy

Can you balance a jar on your head that is filled with water, like the woman in the photo is doing? (Don't try this indoors or with something breakable!) The woman in the photo is in Native dress. At one time, women carried water on their head so their hands could be free to carry other things as they gathered food for their families.

Each spring, Henderson's Clark County Heritage Museum in Nevada hosts the annual Native American Arts Festival. This three-day festival highlights traditional crafts, foods, arts and culture.

The dancing performances are very popular. Native American dancing often involves singing and the wearing of elaborate clothing decorated with feathers, beads, fringes, and sometimes bells. Men and women usually dance separately, even if they are in groups. There are different contests to see who can present themselves in the most authentic manner, and performers spend much time working on their outfits. Many of the artisans show how to make local Native crafts such as pottery, sand paintings, baskets or cloth. Each year, thousands of people come to the festival. Its location near Las Vegas makes it easy to reach for many visitors. The museum itself is an interesting place. You can see different kinds of minerals at a mining exhibit, look at a 1918 railroad steam engine, or even visit a re-created ghost town!

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