WORKING HARD TO DO HIS PART

By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer (Choctaw Nation), Artist in Business Leadership Fellow 2015


 

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Award-winning artist Dana Warrington (Menominee / Prairie Band Potawatomi) was born and raised on Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. His primary art medium is porcupine quillwork. His art also includes beadwork, bustle-making, moccasins, and cradleboards while adding silver work as a new form in the coming year.

Dana relocated with his family to Cherokee, North Carolina, in August 2016.

 


 

Whatever Dana’s mother touched she could do, but the time came when she transferred the work of making his powwow regalia to him. His dad told him, “You can have anything you want, as long as you’re willing to make it yourself.”

At seventeen, Dana picked up a needle and thread and began creating through trial and error over the next ten years. Then he bought his first quillwork pieces, and the dream of having a full set of quillwork was born.

“You can have anything you want, as long as you’re willing to make it yourself.”

Dana had absorbed his love of art through his grandmother. “She always stressed to never abuse your craft, and to always do right by people,” he says.

He followed her teachings through his beginning years, and it brought him to great places. After he spent several winters making new pieces for each powwow season, people began asking Dana who made his regalia. Orders came in.

Over the past two years, Dana has pursued art full-time. At his first major event, Eiteljorg Museum Indian Art Market, he received Best of Show. It left him speechless.

He renamed his art business — Young Blood Artwork — in honor of his grandmother, Dorothy Young. The business is a way of keeping her legacy alive.

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In 2018, Dana is looking forward to more great places. With a tribal loan, he and his family are completing a studio next door to his house, giving him space to create his art. His First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership fellowship will cover travel expenses for prestigious Indian art markets. This fellowship also opens network connections he’s never had.

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Currently Dana is reaching out to other Native artists and inspiring them through his story to take their business and art to the next level. “The talent is definitely there,” he says.

In it all, he strives for balance between his business and his family while acknowledging the center of everything he does.

“I want to stay 100% focused on my art, my family, and what’s right in front of me,” Dana says. “I believe God is the center of everything, of our lives every day. I believe we have God-given talent — that’s what is pushing me to pursue it. The rest, I’ve just got to work hard for.”