Idyllwild Arts Foundation presents its annual Native American Arts Festival Week at the Idyllwild Arts campus from Sunday June 18 to Friday, June 23, 2023. The week-long event, which has run each summer for over two decades, is designed to enhance and enrich the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program with Native American arts-based programming including an invitational exhibition, demonstrations, Native food tastings and the Michael Kabotie Lecture Series. All festival week events are free and open to the public.

Idyllwild Arts is an institution rooted in respect, reverence, and support for Native American people and is the only residential arts high school in the country to offer a Native American Arts program. Idyllwild Arts is also advancing its promise to continue expanding Native American Arts & Education with the upcoming debut of a dedicated Native American Arts Center on campus.

This year’s Native American Arts Festival is again being led by Native American Executive Director, Shaliyah Ben (Diné), whose vision will bring to life this year’s theme, an examination and celebration of Native humor, comedy and joy. After the past few difficult years, humor is an important tool to help heal within while also coping with and accepting new realities. The unique week of programming seeks to inspire internal reflection and laughter while also igniting important conversations about topics that shape Indigenous communities by bringing together scientific, intuitive, and trickster voices for a balanced and provocative learning experience.

Highlights of this year’s festival include the Opening Day Celebration “Welcoming Home the Birds,” which is a full day of cultural programming and sharing of Cahuilla and Serrano Bird Singing. Attendees are invited to taste California Native Foods presented by Willie Pink (Luiseño). There will be a plethora of artist vendors and hands-on activities will be provided by Tony Soares, Lily Clarke (Cahuilla) and Lorene Sisquoc (Cahuilla/Apache) with the Mother Earth Clan.


Curated by Meranda Roberts (Numu/Xicana), this year’s invitational exhibition: Still We Smile: Humor as Correction and Joy”, opens on Monday June 19 and will feature a range of artistic mediums from multi-media works to prints and photography. An artist/curator-led panel discussion takes place at 7 pm in the Parks Exhibition Center followed by a reception. The exhibition explores the concept of humor, and joy and its role within Indigenous communities to express love, share good humor, cope and correct behaviors. On Tuesday, June 20 thru Thursday, June 22 the Michael Kabotie Lecture Series returns to campus for a series of comedy-themed, in-person lectures during the noon hour, which will also stream live on Facebook and YouTube.

The week of programming will culminate with The Good Medicine Comedy Showcase on the evening of Friday, June 23. Organized by Jackie Keliiaa (Yerington Paiute/Washoe) and headlined by Tatanka Means (Navajo/Ogala Lakota/Yankton/Omaha), the event promises to be a fun gathering and sharing of Native Humor.

For the full schedule of workshops and events, visit

Idyllwild Arts respectfully acknowledges the Qawishpa Cahuillangnah (also known as Cahuilla Band of Indians) on whose land the Idyllwild Arts community dwells. Located on a 205-acre campus in the San Jacinto Mountains, the school was recently ranked the #1 Private High School for Arts in America and prides itself on providing a one-of-a-kind experience for young artists hailing from more than 30 countries.

WHEN: Sunday June 18 to Friday, June 23, 2023

WHERE: Idyllwild Arts Academy, 52500 Temecula Rd, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549