phillip whiteman,jr and lynette two bulls
TRIBE: Northern Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota
MEDIUM: Storytellers, Performance Arts
LOCATION: Lame Deer, Montana
Phillip and Lynette put their art at the service of community leadership, teaching and healing. Their extraordinary lives have encompassed the worlds of high finance, professional rodeo, and professional traditional dance, but their focus is the Northern Cheyenne Reservation where they live and where Phillip is a hereditary Chief. Through their shared work on workshop-based programs and performances and presentations, they use the traditional arts of storytelling, song and dance, and horsemanship to reconnect tribal communities with their histories, cultures and ways of being. They are founders and organizers of the Fort Robinson Break Out Run, now in its 20th year of changing children’s lives through an immersive, five-day re-creation of an historic wintertime escape and journey home.
Cinnamon Spear, now of Phoenix, participated in the Fort Robinson Break Out Run years ago and nominated Phillip and Lynette for the 2016 Community Spirit Award. “Phillip and Lynette’s art extends farther than the limitations of the common understanding of what art might be, or more succinctly, their work goes beyond art — it is holistic — it is a way of life,” she says. “At the center of their work is the need, desire, and duty to strengthen community. They do this by targeting first the individual, then the family and community, in order to build a stronger Nation.”
Phillip and Lynette say that at its core, their art represents resilience and reciprocity. “The stories and teachings are not stories of a history that is no longer, our stories are still alive. This way of life — which includes our songs, our dance, our ceremonies, our medicine knowledge, our horse knowledge — keeps us connected to our ‘spirit’ and our ‘center. In times of hardship and adversity, we know how to help ourselves. This is how our ancestors survived. Now through our work, we are moving from surviving to thriving.”