Current Projects

Native Arts Initiative (NAI)

About the Native Arts Initiative

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) works to build healthy economies in Indian Country based on strategies that emphasize Native communities controlling their assets, including cultural assets, institutional assets, natural resource assets and political assets among others. As a cultural asset for Native communities, art has been an integral part of sustaining Native nations, culture, language and traditional beliefs, shaping community and family ties and cultural pride. Yet, the process of colonization has stripped many Native communities of artistic forms and individuals with the capacity to carry on traditional art forms that are integral to their cultures. Factors such as western and religious education systems as well as urbanization and incorporation into the modern economy, among others, have all directly impacted Native American artists and the field of Native American arts, placing continued pathways of cultural traditions in jeopardy.

To this end, First Nations established the Native Arts Capacity Building Initiative (NACBI) in 2014 – changing its name to the Native Arts Initiative (NAI) in 2016 – with the goal of stimulating long-term perpetuation, proliferation and revitalization of traditional artistic and cultural assets in Native communities. The NAI is working to achieve this by creating and strengthening the enabling environments in which Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs are operating to support emerging and established Native artists and sustain traditional Native arts. Under the NAI, these entities receive organizational and programmatic resources, including direct grants and technical assistance and training, to support their efforts to increase control of assets across five asset groups – institutional assets, arts and cultural assets, human capital, social assets and economic assets – ultimately facilitating the steady intergenerational transference of traditional artistic knowledge in their communities.

NAI Funding Opportunities

From 2014 through early 2018, First Nations awarded 51 Supporting Native Arts grants totaling more than $1.4 million and ranging from $15,000 to $32,000 each to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal government programs serving Native American artists in three regions – the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota), the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California), and the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington). Currently, the geographic restrictions on NAI funding opportunities stem from our donors’ allowable service areas.

NAI Supporting Native Arts grantees utilize their grant funds to strengthen both organizational and programmatic capacity including, for example, supporting Master-Apprentice Artist instruction, development of Native artists’ business skills, providing arts workshops and classes led by master artists, and convening local artists to inform policy work and arts curriculum creation, among others.

First Nations has also awarded more than 40 professional development mini-grants and travel stipends totaling more than $140,000 to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in the NAI service area from 2014 through mid-2018. Grant recipients have utilized the mini-grants to attend conferences and trainings focused on a wide variety of professional development topics including strategic planning, fundraising, museum best practices, curating and archiving, digital marketing, financial management, board governance and financial oversight among others.

NAI Grantee Training and Technical Assistance Opportunities

Besides direct project funding, First Nations provides NAI grantees with one-on-one technical assistance based on their needs identified in First Nations’ Capacity Survey Tool. Typically this technical assistance is delivered via in-person trainings conducted by First Nations and its partners.

December 2017 NAI Supporting Native Arts Grantees

Bois Forte Heritage Museum, Tower, Minnesota, $32,000

Local artists will design and teach traditional arts workshops to community members to address and ensure intergenerational transfer of knowledge of important Bois Forte art forms. The project will also be focused on increasing access to arts supplies needed by local artists. Finally, the project will strengthen the governance and mission of the tribe’s museum by supporting a strategic planning process for the board of directors.

Dakota Wicohan, Morton, Minnesota, $32,000

Through Dakota Wicohan’s Tawokaga (Art) Apprenticeships program, participants will learn from the community’s master artists via a traditional master/apprentice relationship. Dakota Wicohan provides the physical and financial resources these artists need for their craft, as well as opportunities for both student and master to display their work in sponsored art exhibits. Specifically, the project will serve youth and adults who are new to horse regalia, providing them with the opportunity to learn traditional techniques and the knowledge to create two pieces of horse regalia, present their finished art pieces at several events, and travel to the opening exhibit of the Oceti Sakowin Horse Exhibit.

Diné be’ iiná, Inc., Shiprock, New Mexico, $32,000

Diné be’ iiná is dedicated to promoting economic self-sufficiency with sheep wool and sheep culture. Currently, Diné be’ iiná provides support and technical assistance to community “spin-off groups” across the Navajo Nation. These are locally-led, informal cross-generational groups of sheep herders and wool-fiber artists meeting monthly to exchange knowledge about shepherding and hands-on learning of new fiber art techniques. During the course of this project, three spin-off groups will foster at least three apprenticeships who will receive training in traditional fiber arts techniques, marketing, entrepreneurship, leadership, and wool production.

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Sawyer, Minnesota, $28,200

The goal for this project is to bring local Native artists from the Fond du Lac community who specialize in a wide array of traditional Native art forms into the Sawyer Community Center on a set weekly schedule to share their skills and knowledge in a formal classroom setting with 15 local Native youth who are members of the Sawyer Ogichidaag Club.

Jemez Community Development Corporation, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, $32,000

The Sharing Our Wisdom (SOW) program will create an opportunity for tribal members who are artists to enhance their ability to share their arts knowledge and expand the appreciation of Jemez arts and culture through workshops and classes. Facilitating these workshops through SOW will better enable these self-driven individuals to incorporate the history of the Hemish arts and culture through the historic lens of the Jemez people.

Lower Sioux Indian Community, Morton, Minnesota, $32,000

Through Tanyan Unspepi, Cansa’yapi Cultural Department (CCD) will begin gathering the community’s cultural arts from tribal families and artists by engaging and strengthening the relationships with the community’s families and by continuing to foster relationships with tribal artists. During the project period, the CCD will conduct a Cultural Skills Inventory to create a catalogue of the community’s artists for future programming and will sponsor introductory workshops for preserving and digitizing art. The CCD will also seek donations of digital images to share with the community and evaluate and celebrate the project through video interviews with artists and families and through the display of donated works in the community. The newly donated digital materials will be used to create the first-ever digital cultural archive for Cansa’yapi.

Makah Cultural and Research Center (MCRC), Neah Bay, Washington, $32,000

This project will target Makah master artists and intergenerational emerging Makah artists. Through professional observation, informal oral and formal written surveys, the MCRC has identified Cultural Community Assets and found that there are limited master artists in the Makah community. This project will provide an opportunity for the master artists to share and transfer their skills and knowledge with emerging apprentice artists. This project will revitalize the Ozette-style of basketry and other artwork that isn’t currently being used very much because of limited access to the collections. Project participants will have expanded access to the Ozette Collection as a result of this project.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Auburn, Washington, $32,000

This project will serve the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s community and will continue to build on the arts inherent to the Muckleshoot people who have for centuries implemented art into their daily lives before the word “art” became a word. Art is not a stand-alone program to the Muckleshoot people; rather, it is their way of life. This program will provide a forum at the tribe to lead educational Native arts classes and workshops. Local Muckleshoot artists and other Native artists will lead and teach classes to youth and adults age 16 and above.

Northwest Native Development Fund (NNDF), Coulee Dam, Washington, $32,000

Creating a growing foundation for Native artists on the Colville and Spokane reservations, NNDF will provide group entrepreneurial training for Native artists, technical assistance and strategic planning, and promote entrepreneurial opportunities for the artists. NNDF will procure and manage an artist gallery and also host two Native art shows on the Colville reservation, providing a professional platform for the artists to showcase their work. The project will also facilitate three artist-facilitated sessions in which established artists will be matched with emerging artists to train in studio. It will also allow community members to engage with the artists and view the creative process firsthand.

Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Kyle, South Dakota, $32,000

The Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce (PRACC) intends to expand Native American arts and artist capacity as well as the proliferation of traditional Native arts on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by instituting an artist-in-residency program at the Pine Ridge Visitor Center. PRACC will host 12 Native artists for one-week shows in the summer of 2018. Each artist will also assist a junior artist or apprentice during their show. Of the 12 junior artists, one will be selected as the 13th artist-in-residence at the end of the summer and will receive a paid booth at the Rapid City Winter Art Market in November 2018.

Pueblo of Pojoaque, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $30,600

This Poeh Cultural Arts program will teach approximately 50 Pojoaque Tribal Youth the ancient art of traditional ceremonial regalia-making. Instruction will be by Pojoaque traditional leaders and supported by other tribal member volunteers. The regalia-making will closely follow Pojoaque tradition.

Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Valley Center, California, $18,300

The Wa$xayam Pomki Museum’s Native Art Summer Project will engage the local Native community with the arts by serving as a pillar for intergenerational interactions. All traditional Luiseño arts classes will be taught by the community’s artists and open for enrollment for local tribal members, their descendants and neighboring Cahuilla and Kumeyaay communities.

Sacred Pipe Resource Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, $32,000

Native Artists United (NAU) is a group of Native artists located in the Bismarck-Mandan area of North Dakota representing all tribes of North Dakota and some tribes of South Dakota. Under this project, the Sacred Pipe Resource Center will continue working with the NAU in formalizing an artist cooperative, which will support artist members with marketing and sales utilizing Native-based principles. The NAU will also expand its partnership with the Thusweca Beading & Cultural Academy, a youth artist group, to provide artist-to-artist peer mentoring and ensure the sharing of traditional art forms between several generations.

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Santa Ynez, California, $26,500

The Chumash Culture Department has worked with the Chumash community for 11 years to bring knowledge bearers into programming for the community. The project will help return traditional basketry to the community for all ages by bringing in a master basketweaver to teach basketry classes throughout the project period. The project will also support at least five basketweavers in their efforts to make and show their baskets at the Annual 2018 California Indian Basketweavers event.

United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Seattle, Washington, $32,000

The Urban Native Artists Cohort will provide business development, communications skills, and exhibition training to regional Native artists through a series of workshops. Selected participating artists will provide paid classes in their realm of Native arts to varied sectors of the Native community. Participating artists will also present at least two exhibits during the course of the year in United Indians’ Sacred Circle Gallery.

Utah Diné Bikéyah, Salt Lake City, Utah, $32,000

The Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Ute Indian Tribes hold deep ties to the geography in Bears Ears National Monument. This project will work with Native artists in the Four Corners area (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona) to conduct an Arts Assessment and Arts Infrastructure Plan. This plan will involve interviewing artists, mapping their ties to the land of the Bears Ears National Monument, building a database of artists, arts champions and arts resources in the area, and reviewing policies for impact on traditional arts. The project will also extend the organization’s artist-in-residence program.

Woodland Boys & Girls Club, Neopit, Wisconsin, $32,000

This project’s goal is to educate the Menominee Tribe’s youth and community on traditional Menominee arts while promoting local Native artists. The organization will plan and host a series of artist-led arts classes designed to pass on traditional knowledge and wisdom to the youth and community. Participants will learn how to harvest natural materials specific to the region and design baskets, lacrosse sticks, and other traditional arts forms, which will be exhibited at the end of the project. Last, the project will begin working with artists to explore developing a stronger market to promote, advertise and to sell their work.

April 2017 NAI Supporting Native Arts Grantees

American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), Duluth, Minnesota, $32,000

The funding will support AICHO’s ongoing Native arts project and will focus on showcasing and supporting traditional art forms in collaboration with Native artists and elders in the community.

The Hopi School, Inc., Hotevilla, Arizona, $32,000

The grant will strengthen both The Hopi School’s current arts programming and organizational capacity by providing support for Hopi artists to teach youth about endangered Hopi arts and how to create these art forms, and funding organizational strategic planning and training for The Hopi School board and financial management activities for the organization.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, $32,000

The center will use the grant to support its Daily Artist Program by providing Native artists with an Investing in Artist Success workshop series in which 20 artists will gain tools to promote themselves as artist, market their work, submit their work in art shows, and build professional portfolios.

Keya Foundation Inc., Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $32,000

The funding will support the foundation’s Learning from the Best – Native Artists Learning Together project, which will offer Native artists in the community four peer-learning, educational meetings at the Lakota Cultural Center on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Established, experienced Native American artists and other professionals from the community will work with beginning/emerging artists on topics to include portfolio-building, inventory management, gallery work, presenting themselves and their art in different settings, business preparation and development, and skill-building.

Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF), Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, $22,000

This project will use the funding to focus on the complete inventory process of LEAF’s art collection, a teaching compendium for Native artists in which two LEAF staff members will oversee the inventory process and the organization’s use of objects as educational resources to Native artists, resulting in a professionally inventoried collection of Native art that will be accessible to Native artists and local educational institutions.

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Keshena, Wisconsin, $24,000

The Menominee Historic Preservation Department and Cultural Museum will use the grant to provide a series of traditional Menominee arts workshops taught by artist instructors and organize a strategic planning session with local Native artists, resulting in guidance and direction to better support and promote local Native arts in the future.

Native Americans for Community Action, Inc. (NACA), Flagstaff, Arizona, $32,000

The grant will support NACA’s ongoing management of the Oak Creek Vista Vendor Project in partnership with the Coconino National Forest. NACA will provide new Navajo, Hopi and Zuni artist vendors with quarterly vendor orientations to enhance their personal and professional skills to better prepare them to sell their art at the Oak Creek Vista Overlook. The project will also support the NACA Master Apprenticeship Program in which a master jewelry artist will teach 20 members of the community how the artist’s particular style of art is created, and participants will learn how to make other simple traditional Native jewelry pieces.

Santa Fe Indian School, Leadership Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $32,000

The grant will support six objectives of the institute’s Art & Archaeology Academy (A3). Under this project, the institute will convene 50 artists at a two-day art institute in which artist participants reflect on the past, present and future of traditional arts in Pueblo communities, the creation of a high school arts curriculum based on the learnings at the art institute and the implementation of the Art & Archaeology Academy’s student and mentor art exhibition and conservation in partnership with the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. The project will also survey up to 200 Pueblo artists during the 2017 Pueblo Market to gain a better understanding of their views and strategies on preserving traditional Pueblo art forms.

Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation, Suquamish, Washington, $32,000

The grant will support the Suquamish Museum’s artist-in-residence program in which a Native artist will be selected to produce his/her art work in public view at the museum and will offer regular, hands-on workshops to teach skills to artists and other community members.

Tulalip Foundation, Tulalip, Washington, $20,000

This project will grow the community of Native artists working in the Tulalip reservation and surrounding area by developing an arts curriculum. Through a series of artist-led workshops, the tribe’s Hibulb Cultural Center will provide the space and opportunity for dedicated individuals interested in learning more and exploring their artistic sides.

Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association (TMTAA), Belcourt, North Dakota, $32,000

TMTAA organized and hosted its first annual juried art show in 2016 and will utilize the funding to continue the show in 2017 with seven divisions including Fine Art, Sculpture, Mixed Media, Textiles, Diversified Arts, Beadwork, Baskets for adult artists and four divisions for youth artists (age 7-17). Under this project, the show will offer additional services to participating artists including a training component in which TMTAA staff members work with Native artists on strategies for developing successful art show applications, maximizing sales, and presenting their artwork for optimal sales. The trainings will also support youth/adult mentorships with established artists to help prepare emerging youth artists for the juried art show and other shows.

Upper Sioux Community, Granite Falls, Minnesota, $32,000

The funded project, Gathering and Healing Through Arts, will support two goals: increasing access to and awareness and appreciation of Dakota arts in the Upper Sioux community through hosting artist gatherings and showcasing community artists and their art; and increasing the intergenerational transfer of Dakota arts by supporting a communal artist space and nurturing the teaching and sharing of artistic and cultural practices through traditional and contemporary Dakota art forms.

Warm Springs Community Action Team, Warm Springs, Oregon, $32,000

The grant funds will support the efforts of the Warm Springs Artisans’ Community to incorporate as a nonprofit utilizing cooperative principles; provide opportunities for Native artists to sell their work locally, regionally and online; and provide education and training to increase artists’ knowledge of cooperative principles, business and marketing strategies, and sales techniques.

Woodland Indian Art, Inc., Oneida, Wisconsin, $32,000

The 11-year-old Woodland Indian Art Show & Market will utilize the funds to work with arts advisory councils at the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to expand Woodland Indian art events for Native artists with the goal of creating the infrastructure necessary to establish a traveling Woodland Indian Art Show and Market based on the WIA model and in partnership among Woodland Indian tribes in Wisconsin.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP), Zuni, New Mexico, $32,000

During the grant period, ZYEP’s six-member master artist committee will undergo training to learn how to create, disseminate and select requests for proposals for traditional Zuni art work that will ultimately be created by local artists in the tribe’s Hon A-wan Park to ensure that the park reflects Zuni’s rich artistic tradition and provides a space for future art creation. After artists are selected, the master artist committee will oversee the development of traditional Zuni artwork in the Hon A-wan Park and provide the contracted artists with technical expertise and training.

December 2017 NAI Professional Development Grantees

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC), Albuquerque, New Mexico, $1,500

Through the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability training, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) was able to begin developing a framework to tell the organization’s “Pueblo Story” for use in all of the organization’s development initiatives. IPCC staff who attended the training also gained insight on how other Native American organizations are controlling their message and leveraging relationships to build and fund successful programs/projects. This professional development grant also positioned the IPCC to begin building a realistic funding framework and better identify its strategy.

Keya Foundation, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $1,700

Through the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability training, the Keya Foundation’s director was able to learn about relevant fundraising strategies for the organization and train the organization’s Board of Directors to increase its capacity to participate in the organization’s fundraising activities.

Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF), Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, $1,600

The LEAF director will attend a three-day course, “Managing Your Capital Campaign,” conducted by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Phoenix, Arizona. The course will provide the LEAF director with a baseline knowledge of the concepts and terminology of the field of fundraising and also help the director determine LEAF’s readiness for capital fundraising, plan a capital campaign from preparation to celebration, develop gift range charts as development tools, cultivate volunteer leadership, and integrate capital fundraising in the organization’s development plan.

LOOM Indigenous Gallery (gallupArts), Gallup, New Mexico, $5,000

The LOOM Indigenous Gallery Advisory Council received an intensive Strategic Planning Training which positioned the Advisory Council, as one of a few Native-controlled arts organizations in Gallup, to be a strong co-collaborator with Native artists and bring underrepresented perspectives and voices to the table in an effort to facilitate peer-to-peer opportunities between Native artists in the region and support artist-in-residence opportunities.

Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, Keshena, Wisconsin, $1,700

The tribe’s museum director participated in the 2017 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums annual conference to enhance and expand the Menominee Museum’s current strategies for revitalizing and promoting culture and the arts, Native artists, entrepreneurship, and their connection with the community.

Native Americans for Community Action, Inc. (NACA), Flagstaff, Arizona, $3,000

A NACA staff member attended the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability training to provide staff with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to help the organization in fundraising and to explore more diverse revenue streams so that the organization is not as reliant on federal grants.

Stockbridge-Munsee Band, Bowler, Wisconsin, $2,500

The Stockbridge-Munsee Museum staff are the caregivers of the tribe’s traditional art forms. This professional development grant supported the participation of the tribe’s museum staff in the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museum’s 2017 annual conference and increased their capacity to care for cultural items in the library/museum’s collection. The manager has utilized the new ideas gained from the conference during the planning of exhibits and the retention of artwork, and the conference has helped the library/museum better serve the Native artists and traditional Native arts in the Stockbridge-Munsee Community by making the library/museum manager more aware of the arts in the community and giving information on how to incorporate their art into the library/museum.

Tulalip Foundation, Tulalip, Washington, $1,500

The foundation’s executive director participated in the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability training to help increase the organization’s knowledge of developing and sustaining cultural and arts programs from a financial standpoint. Staff have been able to leverage this additional knowledge to increase the organization’s capacity to implement additional programming and policies that empower community well-being through the continued sharing of cultural and artistic traditions and practices.

Tulalip Foundation (Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center), Tulalip, Washington, $1,700

The curator of the Tulalip Tribes’ Hibulb Cultural Center attended the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museum’s 2017 annual conference to learn about improving the effectiveness of the Hibulb Cultural Center’s exhibitions for visitors to the center and the community’s artists who exhibit their art work in the center.

Warm Springs Community Action Team (WSCAT), Warm Springs, Oregon, $3,000

One artist and one WSCAT staff member attended the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability Training in order to increase awareness of nonprofit development best practices, especially those related to revenue development, for their emerging artist cooperative. Through this training, staff have gained a basic understanding of financial stability and will position the emerging organization to begin building a strong foundation for development.

Woodland Indian Art, Inc. (WIA), Green Bay, Wisconsin, $2,800

The WIA executive administrator and board president participated in the Power of We Fundraising and Sustainability training to support the organization’s newly-formed fundraising committee in developing fundraising strategies and a plan of action for fundraising next steps.

April 2017 NAI Professional Development Grantees

Native POP: People of the Plains, A Gathering of Arts and Culture, Rapid City, South Dakota, $5,000

Native POP will utilize the professional development grant to strengthen the leadership and governance capacity of Native POP Organizing Committee members by engaging them in a board development training and strategic planning process. These activities will also position committee members to set priorities for Native POP’s future.

Shallow Gallery Advisory Council, Gallup, New Mexico, $5,000

The Shallow Gallery is an innovative exhibit space in Gallup featuring rising-star Native artists who address relevant issues in their work. The professional development grant will be used to support a strategic planning training for the Shallow Gallery Advisory Council, and one Advisory Council member will attend the 2017 Western Museum Association Conference to gain capacity in leadership, governance and management.

Yavapai-Apache Nation, Camp Verde, Arizona, $5,000

The professional development grant will be used to formalize the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s Artist Coordination Team, which will be comprised of local Yavapai-Apache artists, and provide the team with strategic planning training to gain leadership skills. The trainings will position the team to inform the direction of the tribe’s future arts programming, identify ways the tribe can work with its artists, and raise the community’s awareness of traditional Yavapai-Apache art.

2016 NAI Grantees

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Porcupine, South Dakota, $30,000

The “Community Development Through Creative Placemaking” project will serve primarily young adult and adult artists of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As part of its Regenerative Community project, Thunder Valley is entering the design phase for the “Empowerment Center,” a cultural centerpiece of multiple buildings around the powwow grounds/amphitheater. Once completed, these will include community gathering space, business incubators, artist studios, and artist live/work spaces. The project is focused on continuing to expand the engagement of local artists in the critical development stages of the Empowerment Center, recognizing that creative placemaking is an integral part of making this community beautiful and inspirational for innovation. Thunder Valley will also continue to provide services to the community’s artists, including holding at least three financial literacy trainings with the goal of strengthening the business foundation of artists.

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Planning and Economic Development Office, Agency Village, South Dakota, $30,000

The Cultural Arts Project will continue to provide tribal artists with training and technical assistance in their efforts to establish themselves as entrepreneurs through individual business development. During the project, participating artists will attend three trainings, including financial literacy, social media and marketing to help expand their markets, and business plan development in which tribal artists will be provided with a template in which they can began developing individual business plans and also receive one-on-one training by knowledgeable staff and planners. Artists will also be offered four peer-teaching community events, which will feature an artist demonstrating and teaching his or her art form.

White Earth Economic Development Office, White Earth, Minnesota, $30,000

The office’s Gizhiigin Arts Place is a unique economic development model focused on strengthening the arts industry of the White Earth Reservation. During the project, Gizhiigin will serve the White Earth Reservation through four initiatives: 1) the Legacy Art Youth Mentorship Program; 2) the Gizhiigin Artist Career Development Program; 3) the Art Cooperative Incubation; and 4) public and community art projects and events.

Woodland Indian Art, Inc., Oneida, Wisconsin, $30,000

Founded in 2006 by volunteers on the Oneida Nation Reservation, the Woodland Indian Art Show & Market will hold its 10th Annual Art Show and Market in July 2016. Woodland’s Managerial Capacity project will bring on a part-time executive director who will focus on 1) building a solid base of volunteers for the organization composed of Native college students and other community members; 2) implementing a solid fiscal policy to build the sustainability of the organization’s board, expand the professional development of the management staff, begin researching and developing an endowment/trust fund, and mapping grant opportunities at private foundations and other funding sources; 3) expanding the organization’s “friend raiser” partnerships with Woodland Indian tribes and tribal organizations; and 4) adopting a sound communications plan that aligns with the organization’s digital marketing efforts.

Cheyenne River Chamber of Commerce, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $23,100

The “Expanding Cheyenne River’s Art Market” project will build off of the chamber’s past successes at providing entrepreneurial opportunities for Native American artists, increasing awareness of Native American art, and educating on Lakota culture. The project will expand the art market on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation by implementing these strategies: 1) plan and host Cheyenne River’s 4th Annual Art in the Park for artists to sell their work and others to be exposed to Lakota culture; 2) develop and implement a statewide art marketing campaign to drive art buyers to local art venues and online platforms; 3) facilitate networking opportunities for artists and other business owners to collaborate; and 4) provide art entrepreneurs with additional training, technical assistance and resources so they can achieve their business goals.

The Keya Foundation, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $22,200

The “Exploration and Expansion of the Lakota Artistry Cooperative on the Cheyenne River Reservation” project will develop a business plan for the expansion of the Lakota Artistry Cooperative and an arts supply store at the H.V. Johnson Cultural Center for the Cheyenne River arts community. Based on findings of the business plan, the project will establish a supply store where local artists can purchase supplies without having to travel more than 200 miles roundtrip. The supply store will also provide the option for artists to utilize the store’s online ordering system.

Minneapolis American Indian Center Two Rivers Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $30,000

The project is the second of a three-phase effort to build capacity and infrastructure to support the Two Rivers Gallery. The first phase involved developing a new vision, new leadership and reopening the gallery, which has occurred. The second phase involves strengthening the gallery’s collaborations with other organizations both in the arts world and other sectors, including Native and non-Native communities, developing a business and sustainability plan for the gallery, and increasing the gallery’s marketing and media efforts to better support emerging Native artists while providing them additional exposure. The gallery serves the multi-tribal Native community of the Twin Cities by offering opportunities to view, create and learn about art – always for free – and for the broader community to have access to Native artists and to learn about Native cultures and values.

2015 NAI Grantees

American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), Duluth, Minnesota, $30,000

The Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin Artist/Community Collaboration will be a year-long art-making and artist-development project for Native American artists primarily from the Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, White Earth, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake Bands and Red Lake Nation. AICHO will work with the Gimaajii community to curate, coordinate and document art-making events, Native artist skill-building and professional development workshops, and collaborative installations and performances. AICHO will develop a website where Native artists display professional photos and sell their art. AICHO will address cost obstacles by funding supplies, providing workshop meals, and paying stipends to artists to lead workshops for residents and community members.

Dakota Wicohan, Morton, Minnesota, $30,000

Given the scarcity of Dakota artists and opportunities for making, showing and selling art in their Minnesota homelands, Dakota Wicohan will use the grant for its Tawokaga Program to create opportunities to develop artists and for artists to make art. Dakota Wicohan will also focus on strengthening its organizational capacity to support the artists to be able to better sustain the artists and the arts while also expanding the visibility of and supporting the network for Dakota arts in rural Minnesota. Dakota Wicohan will leverage its recent successes to continue intergenerational apprenticeships, add professional development opportunities for artists, publicize and share Dakota arts, expand the capacity of its in-house programming, and develop and enhance relationships so that Dakota Wicohan can offer more opportunities for their artists.

Lower Sioux Indian Community, Morton, Minnesota, $30,000

This project will help revitalize the Native American artists who have been teaching, preserving and showcasing art in the mediums of pottery, quilting/sewing, woodwork/sculpting, beading, leather work, painting/drawing, and quillwork. The Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site will be the hub station for artists to showcase their art, market their products and provide educational workshops to the Lower Sioux Tribal Community members and other Natives in the area. The grant will serve as an apprenticeship program for quilters, potters, beaders and leather workers.

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, Minnesota, $30,000

The Red Lake Native Arts Program serves predominantly adult artists and emerging youth artists living on and or near the remote Red Lake Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. Geography and lack of knowledge about the work of Native artists in the area and also small business development have made it difficult to establish a thriving arts economy. The grant will provide a wraparound approach from developing the artist’s personal/business foundation to providing access to expanded markets and the necessary tools for success. By building staff capacity rather than relying on inconsistent volunteer time, the Native Arts Program will become more effective in delivery of key program components: art-specific business training and coaching, sales events, cooperative development and access to capital. The project has the underlying intent to revive and preserve the rich culture and traditions of their Anishinaabe people.

Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF), Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, $15,000

The Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF), founded in 2013, is an emerging Native-led nonprofit that primarily serves artists from the Ho-Chunk Nation and other Wisconsin tribes. LEAF will utilize the grant to expand its capacity as a Native nonprofit. LEAF will plan and implement a board retreat for a planning, growth and expansion project, which will serve the LEAF Board of Directors and the Native artists (predominantly Ho-Chunk and other Great Lakes-area tribes) that benefit from LEAF’s programs. Work will include creation of a formal board handbook, a board retreat, and a strategic plan framework to ensure a standard of good governance. As an emerging nonprofit, LEAF is in an optimal position to put in place the essential elements of good governance. This valuable work will provide LEAF with a strong footing to build a stable board and an organization that can achieve its mission of serving Native artists in Wisconsin.

Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association, Belcourt, North Dakota, $30,000

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians has experienced a loss of art forms that were essential to its heritage and culture. Creating an authentic Native American artwork project will assist in redeveloping the lost arts. The Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association has created an art project, the Artistic Renewal and Preservation Project, consisting of three component: beadwork, red willow basket creation, and dance regalia, focusing on the traditional styles of the ancestors. The project is designed to provide past, present and new artists with the opportunity to build upon their skills and become master artists and entrepreneurs. The project also will involve peer-learning and sharing opportunities in which traditional master artists will teach community members in hands-on art sessions that are open to all enrolled tribal members.

2014 NAI Grantees

Four Bands Community Fund (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe & other tribes in SD) - $30,000

Four Bands Community Fund, a Native-controlled nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), administers the “Rediscovering Native Art on Cheyenne River” project to strengthen the arts sector on the Cheyenne River Reservation by building the capacity of a communal art space, building the capacity of local Native artists, developing and implementing a reservation-wide art marketing program, and developing and distributing a best practices guide so that the project can be replicated in other reservation communities. To maximize the impact of this project, Four Bands Community Fund partners with key organizations that are also dedicated to promoting Native art and culture.

Minneapolis American Indian Center (Tribal members of Minnesota tribes & others) - $30,000

Located within the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC), a Native-controlled 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Two Rivers Gallery has provided a venue for local American Indian artists since 1976. In 2014-2015, the MAIC will revitalize the Gallery through organizational development and by providing resources for local American Indian artists to hold exhibits in the Gallery. Local American Indian artists will be invited to participate in six community shows in 2015. The re-launch of the Gallery will add to the revitalization of the MAIC. Located along the American Indian Cultural Corridor in south Minneapolis, the MAIC has been the heart of the American Indian community. The Two Rivers Gallery will add to the rich culture of the community and history of the MAIC.

Sitting Bull College (Standing Rock Sioux Tribes and others in SD and ND)- $30,000

Sitting Bull College, a Tribal College accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education, currently provides opportunities for artists to show what they do, market their products and services, and learn topics relevant to their success. The purpose of this project is to create a community infrastructure that will more effectively market and coordinate the artists’ relevant programs and services and increase the quality of the programs and services offered to community artists.

The Lakota Fund, Inc.(Oglala Lakota Sioux, SD) - $29,997

The Lakota Fund, Inc. (TLFI), a Native-controlled Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving the Pine Ridge Reservation, provides Oglala Lakota artists with financial services and business skills development. Selected artists will access capital and expand marketing of their work. An estimated 30% of Pine Ridge Reservation households earn some income from arts and crafts. However, economic well-being for families and the community is often lost because these endeavors are not run as businesses, are undercapitalized, and lack marketing opportunities. By helping individual artists, this project will boost the entire art industry in this region. TLFI will establish an Artists Division within TLFI to maintain this focus beyond the scope of this project. The current TLFI Strategic Plan focuses organizational efforts on creating and expanding Native business; the new Artists Division will assure that focus remains on art entrepreneurs, a group who helped Lakota Fund get started.

White Earth Nation (White Earth Nation community, MN) - $30,000

The purpose of the White Earth Nation’s Gizhiigin Art Place Project is to assist, promote and foster the growth and development of local artists and entrepreneurs with a unique focus on community involvement while increasing the visibility of the local artists and entrepreneurs. The project will succeed in its purpose by giving the clients and all those involved a viable skill set and valuable business knowledge that will allow them to use their creative abilities to make a viable living. In 2015, the project will house up to six clients at its location in Mahnomen, Minnesota, and offers them a workspace, access to high-speed internet, business plan development, along with access to local resources with the knowledge and expertise to assist them with any business development needs.

Woodland Indian Art, Inc. (Oneida Nation & other tribes in WI) - $30,000

Woodland Indian Art, Inc. (WIA), a community organization located on the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin reservation, promotes and educates the public about the uniqueness of Woodland Indian Art. WIA also organizes and administers an annual Woodland Indian Art Show and Market, which includes a juried art competition, artist workshops, youth art competition and an art market. WIA is working to increase its organizational capacity as a nonprofit and strategic infrastructure by creating a sustainable business/marketing plan for WIA and an action plan to increase revenue to support and expand WIA’S activities. By increasing the organizational capacity of Woodland Indian Art, Inc. it will have the ability to expand its focus to a “festival” type event which includes performing artists and more art workshops from the targeted Midwest tribes, as well as an increased number of artists and public who decide to participate. This project will strengthen the board and other volunteers through training and implementation of strategic long-term planning for growth and sustainability.