Four Native American artists from around the country—including two from Minnesota—have been named recipients of the 2014 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award. The award, presented by First Peoples Fund, honors and celebrates exceptional Native artists who embody the Collective Spirit®—that which manifests self-awareness and a sense of responsibility to sustain the cultural fabric of a community.

This year’s honorees are Douglas Limon (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin) from White Bear Lake, Minnesota; Delbert Miller (Skokomish) from Shelton, Washington; Jody Naranjo Folwell-Turipa (Santa Clara/Tewa) from Espanola, New Mexico; and Anton Treuer (White Earth/Leech Lake Ojibwe) from Bemidji, Minnesota.

The four artists join 76 other Community Spirit Award recipients who have been honored since the award’s inception 15 years ago. First Peoples Fund is a national organization based in Rapid City, South Dakota, that works to preserve and advance American Indian artists and culture across the country.

“These four artists were chosen not just for a lifetime of artistic excellence, but because they exemplify our Indigenous values of generosity, wisdom, respect, integrity, strength, fortitude and humility,” said Lori Pourier, president of First Peoples Fund. “They are examples of our mission in action, moving entire tribal communities to stand up and make a difference, pass on ancestral knowledge, and simply extend a hand of generosity.”

  • Douglas Limón learned the art of traditional beadwork at an early age—beading with his mother on a loom at the age of five. Over the years, his work has evolved from traditional bags, belts, headbands and moccasins to contemporary wall art. He regularly presents his work and the Oneida Tribe’s traditions to students across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • Delbert Miller is a traditional carver who has worked with a variety of mediums, from red cedar wood to bone, antler and shell. He has been instrumental in reviving nearly lost art forms, like ancient spear dancing, paddle dancing and other traditional songs and ceremonies of the Skokomish Indian Tribe. He carries on a legacy of language and cultural preservation that was begun by his late uncle Bruce Miller—which carries critical importance for his community, which is rich with traditional weavers, carvers, painters and canoe makers, but has no fluent language speakers anymore.
  • Jody Naranjo Folwell-Turipa inherited her family’s tradition of pottery making as a child, first sculpting traditional blackware and redware, progressing to clay, and culminating today into cutting edge modern, fine art ceramics. She was the first female potter ever to win Best of Show at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
  • Anton Treuer has a wide array of artistic passions, all of which have grown out of a lifelong passion for Ojibwe music, art and ceremony. An accomplished singer who has positions on four ceremonial drum groups on the Leech Lake and White Earth Reservations, he is also a speaker and storyteller of the Ojibwe language who has worked tirelessly to preserve the language and culture through song and story. Over 18 years he has generated hundreds of hours of audio material and thousands of pages of traditional stories in Ojibwe with English translations—all of which have been archived so that they can be used by others.

Each Community Spirit Award recipient receives a $7,500 fellowship with the award, and will be honored during a ceremony and artistic presentation at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 18, 2014. The ceremony is held every other year at The Cowles, and is complemented by hometown ceremonies in the artist’s communities as well.

The honorees were nominated for the Community Spirit Award by members of their own communities, and were selected by an independent panel of American Indian cultural leaders. This year’s panel of reviewers included Bud Lane III (Siletz), Ron Martinez Looking Elk (Isleta/Taos Pueblo), Donald F. Montileaux (Oglala), and Loris Taylor (Hopi).

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