RED INK indigenous dinner cooks up a great evening

April 25, 2017

Celebrity chef Nephi Craig, who made a guest appearance at ASU last weekend, doesn’t run a swanky New York restaurant or yell insults on a reality TV show. Craig, who is of Apache and Navajo heritage, doesn’t generally serve fry bread, and he believes that food has a role in healing. You could say that he believes in a kinder, more indigenous approach to food.

Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary Association, headlined the first RED INK Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Sustainability Dinner held on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe this past Saturday, April 22, in Old Main’s Carson Ballroom. In addition to Craig's great food, dinner guests also enjoyed the classical stylings of guitarist Gabriel Ayala, a fashion show of indigenous-inspired designs by ASU art major Tyson Powless, and the poetry and stories of ASU Regents’ Professor of English and American Indian Studies Simon Ortiz. Chef Nephi Craig chats with attendee at RED INK Sustainability Dinner, April 22, 2017. / Photo by Henry Quintero Chef Nephi Craig described his food ethics to NPR in 2016: "Native American cuisine is right now, to me, in my generation and in this time frame, not about fine dining as a priority. ... It's about restoration of balance, equipping families and individuals with the ability to change their lives and cope with and live an indigenous life under all these different forms of colonialism in America." Download Full Image

Craig prepared hors d’oeuvres and dinner from a carving board and action station. The menu, which focused on indigenous, sustainable foods, included: slow-roasted bison; chili- and honey-roasted wild turkey; smoked salmon; Ayacucho quinoa salad; roasted young vegetables; Apache cornbread; zucchini fritters; Western Apache Nada’ban and braised beef tongue; spring three sisters mix of Tohono O’odham tepary beans, Anasazi beans, yellow squash tomatoes, and yucca blossoms; and an assortment of roasted seeds and nuts. Beverages included Apache Pinon Cloud coffee, White Mountain Apache wild tea and sweet corn tea.

While he worked, Craig shared his knowledge of the rich history of indigenous foods and cooking, explaining that food is inseparable from — and at the heart of — a people’s history, culture, tradition, identity, family and home. Craig has infused his holistic beliefs about food into plans for his new restaurant, Café Gozhóó Western Apache Café and Learning Center, set to open in Whiteriver, White Mountain Apache Nation, later this spring.

Classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala plays at the RED INK Sustainability Dinner on April 22, 2017. / Photo by Henry Quintero

Guitarist Gabriel Ayala, an internationally renowned artist who is Pascua Yaqui from Tucson, plays varied selections at the first RED INK Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Sustainability Dinner.

Ayala, an internationally renowned artist who is Pascua Yaqui from Tucson, played varied selections from classical, flamenco and jazz traditions as well as from his own compositions. With each piece, he related personal anecdotes, such as the time he played music with Carlos Santana and another time with the Temptations.

The dinner was attended by people all ages, and by representatives from many different indigenous nations, local and distant. Attendees included Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez and his family and members of local indigenous nations, such as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Pasqua Yaqui Nation, Gila River Indian Community and White Mountain Apache Nation. ASU guests in addition to Ortiz included tribal liaison Jacob Moore and his wife, as well as friends and family of RED INK staff members.

The RED INK Indigenous Initiative for All is a collaborative endeavor conceived and equally implemented among all stake-holders/partners with an interrelated set of campus, regional, national and international ventures, including an international journal (RED INK: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, & Humanities) and other projects to achieve goals set in collaboration with indigenous communities. It is housed in the Department of English, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, visit the RED INK website at

ASU freshman goes viral with DIY breakdown of hit band's songs

April 25, 2017

What makes something go "viral"? Marketing companies spend billions of dollars trying to answer that question, but in John Fassold's case, he was just bored and trying to make his friends laugh.

The ASU student posted his YouTube video "How EVERY Chainsmokers song is written" just over a week ago, and it's now at well over 4 million views — and counting. Fassold, a Barrett freshman majoring in digital culture in ASU's Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, answered some of our questions about what life is like when something you create catches on fast. ASU freshman John Fassold goes viral with his YouTube breakdown of Chainsmokers' songs Barrett freshman John Fassold is a digital culture major in music whose latest YouTube video garnered more than 4 million views — in about a week. Download Full Image

Question: Any advice for someone whose video goes suddenly and unexpectedly viral?

Answer: If you go viral, I would advise not being wrapped up in every single thing someone writes to you. Don't say yes to everything and everyone, and just monitor the likes/dislikes so you can gauge whether the content you've posted is something you can continue with or if you should cease that kind of content for the future. 

Q: How have your friends and fellow ASU students reacted? 

A: My friends/peers have been nothing but surprised yet supportive with the entire thing. Many of them tuned in to watch me on the news, as did some teachers! They still see me as their friend or fellow student, rather than as some mystical "internet celebrity," which some viewers seem to put on me.

Q: Is there any “fame” that comes with having a viral video? 

A: There's a level of fame, I guess. My Instagram/Twitter followers have increased tenfold, but I won't get recognized in the street or anything. One time, in class, someone recognized my laugh and asked if I was the person from the video. 

Q: What inspired you to make the video, and what were you thinking when you made it? 

A: The only thing that inspired me to make the video was to make my friends laugh and 2 a.m. boredom that was brought about by the inability to sleep because of a coffee I had had earlier. While I was making it, I was surprising myself with how easy it was and how fun it was to make that kind of collection of Snapchats, and much of my laughter was incredulous, as if to say, "Wow, it really is this easy!"

Q: Any response from the Chainsmokers themselves?

A: Nothing has been directly said by the duo, but during the peak of the video's popularity, they did tweet something that said something about not listening to negativity, but this may have been directed at a musician named Deadmau5 who called them out for using a ghost producer/writer. But who knows, maybe it was directed towards me. 

Q: How long have you studied music?

A: I have been studying music for 13 years. Seven years were spent being classically trained by a teacher with formal lessons, while the last six years have been spent pursuing blues/jazz study on my own. 

Q: Does your music factor into your digital culture major?

A: I try to bring music into digital culture when I can, but as of right now, it hasn't been a focal point of my studies. This is likely because I just started my major, so the concentration aspect will likely come with more classes. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I see myself writing/producing for music artists, film or television, because I think I have a knack for creating catchy hooks and melodies, as well as creating well-crafted moods and musical environments for any application or medium. 

Q: Anything you'd like to add?

A: There should be a class for how to cope with being viral/sudden popularity, because I can easily say that I wasn't taught how to deal with this back in grade school!

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts