Hundreds of native skaters from reservations across the country will compete in the upcoming All Nations Skate Jam (ANSJ), April 30 through May 1, hosted at Los Altos Skate Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the fifth straight year.
The world’s largest Native skate festival, which last year attracted more than 6,000 people including 300 skaters from 50 different tribal nations, was created by the skate-centered Native nonprofit organization Nibwaakaawin, dedicated to the education and empowerment of Native youth. The event coincides with North America’s largest powwow, the Gathering of Nations Powwow, which takes place April 28-30 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The Gathering attracts more than 150,000 spectators from around the world, many of whom also attend the ANSJ.
Nibwaakaawin, which means wisdom, created ANSJ to offer youth a safe and healthy recreational activity and lifestyle choice. “What we’re doing is we’re inspiring Native youth through the means of skateboarding, music, art, design, film and photography,” said Walt Pourier, youth outreach activist, at last year’s ANSJ in the film “Concrete Powwow,” which originally aired on Fuel TV.
In addition to fostering creativity and nurturing cultural identity and pride, Nibwaakaawin aims to direct Native youth to positive physical and mental health, while reducing the risk of childhood obesity, diabetes, participation in gang-related activities, drug abuse and suicide, according to its website. “What skateboarding does when you’re raised with a little bit of historic trauma is it gives you that built dopamine rush, a little endorphin rush. It causes you to focus when you would otherwise be all over the place,” said Gabe Marquez, founder of West Side Boys, at last year’s ANSJ, filmed in “Concrete Powwow.”
The 20,000-square foot concrete park, Los Altos Skate Park, features bowls, pyramids, ledges, rails, and stairs to accommodate all types of skaters.
Top-ranked amateurs like Bryant Chapo, known as Chapo to friends, and Len Yazzen, who rides for IPATH and Native Skates, will compete. ANSJ also attracts skate legends like Tony Alva and Bill Danforth.
Each year, ANSJ launches new lines of skate products from Native skate companies such as Native Skates, Full Blood Skates, 4-Wheel Warpony and others. This year, Vans’ Pendleton will debut its next shoe line made exclusively for Nibwaakaawin and the ANSJ. Native Threads, Chapo’s sponsor, will also be on-site with its new clothing line. Other ANSJ event sponsors for 2011 include NMX and RISE.
Last year’s ANSJ was featured on Fuel TV’s “Concrete Powwow.” This year, the Smithsonian Institution will film at ANSJ for a new hour-long documentary on Native skate culture.
Watch “Concrete Powwow”:
To preview Chapo’s fierce tricks, watch him skate with his buddies in this video: