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FARMINGTON – Hundreds of people attended San Juan College’s second Native Holiday Market on Dec. 13 in the college’s Student Sun Lounge.

Dozens of Native American vendors from all over the Four Corners sold art, handmade beadwork, and even a storm trooper from the Star Wars film series painted with San Ildefonso Pueblo designs.

“I call it Native pop art,” said Rod Velarde, the artist behind the Native stormtrooper. “I started out doing pottery, but then everybody else started doing pottery too, so I had to come up with my own style.”

Along with the stormtrooper, Velarde sold prints of various pop culture characters drawn in a similar, Native pop art style.

Other vendors sold pottery, beadwork, jewelry and textile and fabric work.

“The original concept of the market was to give student artists and alumni support before the holidays,” said Byron Tsabetsaye, director of San Juan College's Native American Center. Since then the market has expanded to include non-student and non-alumni vendors. Tsabetsaye estimated that more than 50 vendors, representing not just Navajo vendors, but Apache and Hopi vendors as well, were present at the market.

“We hope to continue supporting Native vendors and artists in the future,” continued Tsbetsaye.

“It’s an honor to be here actually,” said Keith Jim, who created his own original comic book series about monster slayers based around traditional Navajo stories. During the market Jim sold out of the first edition of his comic, pointing curious potential customers to Tales of Tomorrow, the comic book and graphic novel store in downtown Farmington, where he thought copies might still be available.

“I’m just trying to preserve our traditional stories. That’s my main objective,” Jim said.

Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-333-5283 or via email at sribakoff@daily-times.com.

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