Matilda “Tillie” Wilson has made traditional Atsugewi Indian Baby Baskets for fifteen years. A member of the Hat Creek Atsugewi Band of the Pit River Tribe, she was born in Redding, California and raised in Central Valley (now incorporated as Shasta Lake City). She has 30 years of work experience in education, health management systems, contract health service and health clinic transportation, and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
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.
Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer and her mother Lynda Kay Sawyer, both tribal members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, opened their filmmaking and creative writing class for young students at this summer’s Chickasaw Arts Academy with what seems like a simple question: “What’s the first thing you need to make a film?”
Actors, cameras, lights the students guessed.
“The answer,” Sarah explained, “is a good story.”
Going to ceremony, John Isaiah Pepion sits and watches the movements, the designs. Ideas turn over in his mind, coming up with the images he will use in his art.
A descendant of Mountain Chief, a Blackfeet leader, John does pictographic Plains art, incorporating traditional design elements into contemporary illustrations.
Never forgetting the rights and rituals of intricate quillwork, Deborah Magee carries ancient traditions of her ancestors forward to the 21st century. She conducts every phase with respect and gratitude for those who perfected these techniques. “It was like I rediscovered my sense of tribal identity when I started doing traditional work,” Deborah said.
Apartment cleared out and belongings packed into her “war pony,” Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip) set out on an epic adventure to capture the tenacity, richness, and contemporary beauty of every tribe in the United States. “Matika” means “messenger” in her tribal language, and she is living up to her name through Project 562. Her goal is to photograph positive indigenous role models and shift the narrative in mass media from stereotypical to true representations of Native people today.
Some call it Native Americana. A master storyteller in music, Cary Morin (Crow/Assiniboine) weaves a tapestry of words, styles, and soul into an experience that brings life full circle. His sound is a product of every musician he’s worked with or listened to. He’s a musician with something to say, and he knows how to sing it with his gritty, lived-in voice and nimble yet soulful finger style acoustic guitar picking.
Anna Brown Ehlers remembers the moment when she first dreamed of becoming a Chilkat weaver. She was four, Alaska had just become a state, and her uncle was dancing in his traditional Chilkat blanket during a community celebration.
“I saw that beautiful design and those rich colors. I watched the fringe gracefully moving back and forth as my uncle danced, and I knew I hoped I could do that someday,” she said.
Fifty-eight years later, Anna has been recognized as among the country’s foremost artists by the National Endowment for the Arts through a National Heritage Fellowship. The awards were announced in June. In 2001, First Peoples Fund honored Anna through a Community Spirit Award for her work to revitalize and pass on Chilkat weaving, an art form that was nearly lost in her lifetime.
A mosaic of memories, the way the mind protects from pains of the past. Tanaya Winder (Duckwater Shoshone Tribe) knows someone has to dive headfirst into this muck and darkness to bring forth hope and beauty. She pieces together memories to answer questions in life, to re-member and to explore healing words through poetry. She writes from a place of love.