Four Bands Community Fund’s mission is to create economic opportunity by helping people build strong and sustainable small businesses and increase their financial capability to create assets and wealth. They create opportunities for individuals, businesses, and communities that are committed to financial independence and entrepreneurship.
First Peoples Fund’s Dances with Words program hosted the 6th Annual Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) Poetry Slam on December 13th.
Local media produced several stories on the event:
Wesley May (Red Lake Band of Chippewa) is from the Red Lake Indian Reservation. An artist for 20 years, Wesley conducts healing through art workshops, community murals, and live exhibition paintings with youth groups, schools, and communities across the United States. He is the founder and owner of Wesley May Arts, is a former First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership fellow, and 2017-18 Intercultural Leadership Institute fellow.
Micheal Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota) is an artist from Rapid City, South Dakota and the Red Shirt Table community located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, also in South Dakota. Micheal received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in 2009. He was awarded a 2015 Artist in Business Leadership fellowship, served as the Northern Plains Artist in Residence at the University of South Dakota in summer 2016, and was a 2018 IAIA Artist-in-Residence. Micheal is a multi-media artist with a focus on printmaking.
Jaida Grey Eagle is an Oglala Lakota artist, born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her primary medium is photography and filmmaking. She is also a beadworker, aerial artist, and writer. Jaida received formal training in photography at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a B.Yellowtail artist and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation (CPCDC), based in Shawnee, Okla., is helping Native artists in their local community stay dedicated through their Individual Development Account (IDA) program, which will match an artist’s savings 1:1. When artists have barely enough money to create art and get to market, it takes a leap of faith to begin setting aside money for investing in their business –– but knowing their investment will be doubled makes that leap much less intimidating.
The Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards honor and provide financial resources to Native culture bearers based on exceptional commitment to passing on cultural knowledge and sustaining community spirit. Marie Meade (Yup’ik) of Anchorage, Alaska, and Peter B. Jones (Onondaga) of Versailles, New York, embody this vision with their dedication, ceaseless hard work, and generosity in their communities.
As we focus on investing in the Indigenous Arts Ecology, our family continues to evolve and grow. In recent months, we’ve welcomed new staff to First Peoples Fund — three young women from diverse backgrounds who are enriching our programming while supporting artists and culture bearers at the heart of our work.
Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and gained literary representation by Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt Agency. She holds a Master’s degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. She and her family recently moved to Wagoner, Oklahoma.