Indianz.Com > News > Indian Market offers a new message of gratitude to controversial energy industry sponsor
Santa Fe Indian Market
Dancers perform at the Santa Fe Indian Market, an event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the third weekend of August. The event celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022 and its 101st in 2023. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Indian Market offers a new message of gratitude to controversial energy industry sponsor
Monday, September 11, 2023

The organizer of the Santa Fe Indian Market is once again thanking a sponsor of the popular event amid ongoing controversy over the involvement of one of the world’s largest energy companies.

As anticipated, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) put up another social media post about the sponsorship of ExxonMobil after deleting the first one. But the new showing of gratitude was markedly different — it only contained the social media handle of the energy giant, along with those of other sponsors.

The September 8 post also didn’t offer an explanation of why non-profit organization accepted $30,000 from ExxonMobil, a major player in an industry that has contributed to the exploitation of tribal lands and to the crisis of missing and murdered relatives. A public relations executive had previously told Indianz.Com that more context was going to be provided about the donation.

SWAIA’s new message also only currently appears on one of the organization’s social media channels — that of Instagram. As of Monday evening, there’s no mention of ExxonMobil, or of any other sponsors, on the non-profit’s Facebook account.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” a Native person, who has worked with Native artists, wrote in a comment on the new post on Instagram.

According to SWAIA, ExxonMobil’s $30,000 donation helped pay for “volunteers, volunteer t-shirts and some operational expenses” associated with the 101st Indian Market. The event took place from August 16-20 in Santa Fe, drawing upwards of 100,000 visitors to New Mexico’s capital city for a busy weekend of art, fashion, food, film, song, dance and more — all created by American Indian and Alaska Native artists from the United States and First Nations artists from Canada.

After Indianz.Com’s September 6 story about the controversy, ExxonMobil provided a statement saying that the corporation was “proud” to support SWAIA’s long-running efforts.

“We have a longstanding commitment to supporting the communities where we live and work, and we were proud to support Southwestern Association for Indian Arts as they honor and amplify the voices of Native Artists in our community,” the statement read.

ExxonMobil did not offer further information about the donation, or about its operations in New Mexico, where the state government has officially declared the crisis of missing and murdered Native people — especially women and girls — as an “epidemic.” A task force led by Native women in the state singled out the energy industry for contributing to the high rates of violence.

“With New Mexico being dependent on oil and gas for state revenue, it is no surprise that New Mexico currently has the highest rate of MMIWR cases in the nation and Albuquerque is the city with the second highest,” the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR) task force said in its initial report from December 2020.

SWAIA’s post on Instagram listed 19 sponsors, including ExxonMobil.

“SWAIA is guided by our commitment to promoting and uplifting Native American artists,” the post reads. “As the global spotlight continues to shine on the Native art world, we deeply appreciate the support of all our sponsors and are truly grateful for all the support financially as well as collaboratively.”

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