Carefree Indian Market and Cultural Festival – Meet The Artists

Award-winning Native American art, music and dance are coming to Carefree as Magic Bird Festivals presents the Carefree Indian Market and Cultural Festival from 9am-5pm, February 17-19, at Carefree Desert Gardens,101 Easy Street in Downtown Carefree. Live performances are slated at 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm daily.  For more information, visit

Tony Duncan
A member of the Apache and Arikara/Hidatsa Nations, Tony Duncan  is a four-time world champion teen hoop dancer. He is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the world and was recently invited to entertain the First Lady in Washington D.C.

He also won the 2011 World Hoop Dance championship in Arizona. Tony is also a world-class musician and has been nominated for a Native American Music Award. He is recognized for his smooth and soft melodies of the Apache cane flute.

World Champion Hoop Dancer Tony Duncan

World Champion Hoop Dancer Tony Duncan

Tony performs his melodies in his band Estun-Bah. Tony just finished a solo album which will be released in the first quarter of 2012 on the Canyon Records label.

He began playing the flute at age 10 and was hoop dancing since the age of five. Tony, now 28, plays the flute and hoop dances during the same performance.

“I enjoy doing both (dancing and playing flute) during performances,” he says.

The approach he uses is not traditional. “Unique” is the term he uses. This approach shows the range Tony is capable of.

About using both forms of art in his performances he says, “I miss one when I’m doing the other.”

The combination includes the traditions of Hoop dancing which represents the circle of life by creating images of life forms such as rattlesnakes, the Eagle, butterflies and other forms.

Brian Hammill

A member of the Ho-chunk Nation from southern Wisconsin, Brian Hammill is ranked among the top 10 hoop dancers in the world. A proud veteran of the United States Army, Hammill formed Native Spirit in 1997 to share dance and native culture with the global community.

He is currently based in Phoenix, but was born in Benton, Wisconsin. He became an Eagle Scout at age 14. He went into the Army and received the Army Commendation medal.

Hammill is a three-time Nammy (Native American Music Awards) nominee for music and a four-time Nammy nominee for video production. In 2011 he got his first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do along with winning the 2011 Hoop Dance World Championship. He won the award in 2009 as well.

Native Spirit, Hammill’s production company, prides itself on providing entertainment and dance education opportunities. The dances performed include Hoop Dance, Eagle Dance, Northern Traditional Dance, Grass Dance, Fancy Dance and Southern Traditional Dance. Women’s dance includes Jingle Dress Dance and Fancy Shawl.

“The dances that we share are known as social or intertribal dances,” Hammill says.

He explained that the Native American culture is a living culture and the people involved in this culture are constantly changing and evolving. Hence, the dances have roots in history as well as modern times.

“It is an ongoing process” he says, adding that “We are trying to encourage the youth and working with children. We are sharing our culture in a good way.”

Alex Maldonado

Thanks to the Native American flute, Alex Maldonado is able to discover more about his Yaqui heritage, share his music publicly and perform with his daughter Melissa and son Nicholas.

This sharing of music along with his artistic talent has gained Alex, a tribal member of the Pascua Yaqui Nation now living in Mesa, national recognition.

Alex and wife Patty have two daughters a son and three granddaughters. He makes music, creates art, gives demonstrations and has captivated audiences throughout the Southwest and beyond.

With three recordings released, one collaborated with daughter Melissa, he has been recognized with Native American Music Award nominations for two of his three recordings. Alex is also an award-winning Native American flute maker.

He will be performing music and selling his handmade instruments at the Carefree Indian Market, coming to the Carefree Desert Gardens in February.

The rewards from art shows include the Heard Museum Indian Market, Santa Fe Indian Market, Eiteljorge Museum, Navajo Nation Fair, Red Earth, Jackson Hole and Totah Festival.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. has also purchased his art.

More recently Alex and son Nick have been working on metal art – specifically sculptures that make music. Some of these he hopes to preview at the Carefree Indian Market and Cultural Festival.

To say Alex is very talented is an understatement especially considering that he is self-taught. He said one influence is his Yaqui heritage.

“In playing the flute, I feel a connection in finding out more about my people and myself. One of the many victories in life is knowing who you are and being proud of it,” he says.

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