Fort Collins Museum Foundation (Fort Collins, CO)

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A young girl dancing in Native American regalia watches while a toddler dances with her.

A member of the Iron Family Dancers watches as a youngster practices the steps. Photo courtesy of Michael Tamkun

To many Americans, Native-American music consists of the chanting and drums that they watched in old Westerns on television. But Native-American music is more complex and diverse than that, and the Fort Collins Museum (FCM) presents that new vision of Native- American music to thousands of people each year through their Crossroads at the Council Tree Native American Music Festival.

The museum was founded in 1939 as a pioneer museum, but has grown to focus more on the area’s culture and history. Since 2002 the museum has had the support of the Fort Collins Museum Foundation, which has worked to develop the museum into the premiere institution of its kind in northern Colorado. In FY 2006, the Fort Collins Museum Foundation received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $15,000 to support the fourth Crossroads festival on September 2, 2006. The festival educates the public about the contemporary culture of Native Americans, presenting traditional Native-American music with flute and drum along with rock, hip-hop, blues, and folk music, showcasing the effects of Native Americans on contemporary culture.

In addition to the performances, FCM arranged an art exhibit that highlighted the work of local artist Bunky Echo-Hawk, with other two- and three-dimensional art works by students at the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development.

Fort Collins Museum also arranged an in-school educational component to accompany the festival. Hoop dancer Jackie Bird visited eight elementary schools, four Native-American speakers gave lectures at high schools, and singer Pura Fe performed a concert at Colorado State University, accompanied by Cary Morin of the band the Atoll.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)