Community Spirit Awards


Each year, First Peoples Fund honors and celebrates exceptional American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists who embody the Collective Spirit®—that which manifests self-awareness and a sense of responsibility to sustain the cultural fabric of a community. First Peoples Fund chooses its Community Spirit Award honorees for their commitment to sustaining the cultural values of Native people.

Artists are absolutely central to producing the tangible, visible forms of creation that help the people know who they are. They manifest the tools that support the spiritual practices of the people: the beadwork and clothing that prepare the dancers for the dance; the pipes for ceremony; the drums and rattles for the songs and prayers. Visioning is an important part of all Native cultures, and producing art gives presence to the visions of the people.

The same spirit that guides artists’ work also drives artists to do service in their communities. Artists convey the sacred meanings behind the materials they use. Artists honor the eagle and the grass in the crafting of the bows and arrows, the baskets, the dance regalia, the headdresses. When artists show the meaning of the beautiful things they make, it helps heal the Peoples spirits and shows how others can also give back.

The process of bringing spirit back to community is an important responsibility for artists—it is part of a sacred honor system. First Peoples Fund works strengthen that honor system by recognizing these exceptional artists for knowing themselves, honoring others, and sustaining spirit in their own communities.

Previous Community Spirit Award recipients are eligible to participate in our Cultural Capital Grant Program.


Nominees for the Community Spirit Award must be:

  • Practicing artists of demonstrated maturity in their field.
  • Continually practicing artists for a minimum of 10 years.
  • Documented affiliate of a United States tribe.
  • Note: In addition to Visual Arts, First Peoples recognizes contemporary and traditional forms of Performing Arts and Literary Arts.

Will be awarded to artists who:

  • Demonstrate an artistic practice that passes on the traditions and the life ways of the people.
  • Show a commitment to building the strength of native communities by sharing their skills and talents with others in their respective communities; and
  • Are deeply rooted and maintain direct ties to their tribal community.


Nomination/Application Process

  • Nominations accepted until July 15, 2016 for a 2017 Community Spirit Award
  • Full applications will be sent to artist/nominee and the nominator in late July 2016
  • Complete applications by artist/nominee and the nominator are due back together by October 31, 2016
  • Artist Notification in December 2016

 Nominate Online Button


Selection Process and Expectations

  • A national selection committee will review nominees and select awardees from those that meet the outlined qualifications.
  • Award recipients will receive $7,500 designed to give them the opportunity to continue to practice their art.
  • 2017 Awardees will be honored with a celebration in their local community.
  • A story and photo potrait will be commissioned of the Awardee for FPF publications.


Got questions?

For more information, please contact Jessica Miller at (605) 348-0324 or