Taught by her grandmother, Melissa Widner (White Earth) has been sewing and beading for 30 years. While Melissa spent time observing the perfect stitches and traditional patterns created by her grandmother, she is also drawn to flashy material with a contemporary flair. She was nominated and selected as 2019 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award Honoree. The Community Spirit Awards recognize exceptional Native artists who have shown a lifetime commitment to perpetuating their art and sharing it within their communities. These practicing artists embody First Peoples Fund’s core principles: knowing our history and ourselves; honoring our ancestors and relations; sharing our stories and knowledge.
Kalani Pe’a (Native Hawaiian) writes, arranges, and produces Hawaiian, Contemporary, and Soul music. He won his second Grammy® at the 61st Annual Grammy® Awards for Best Regional Roots Music Album. He is also an illustrator and has published five Hawaiian language children stories for immersion programs statewide under the direction of the Hale Kuamo’o Hawaiian Language Center at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.
Kalani has a B.A. in Public Relations/News Editorial from Colorado Mesa University and took M.A. courses in Early Childhood Education. He uses his college degree as an independent music owner.
His 2019 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellowship helped support his recent “Music For The Soul Tour” which included Portland, Eugene, Berkeley, Folsom, Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Irvine.
Maile Andrade (Native Hawaiian) is a multi-media artist and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hawai’i-Månoa. She has participated in several Indigenous Symposiums/Gatherings in New Zealand, Tahiti, and the Longhouse in Evergreen State College, Washington. Maile has been an artist-in-resident in New Zealand, at the Alaska Heritage Center, and SAR School for Advanced Research, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She serves as an Affiliate Researcher at Bishop Museum and has presented all over the world.
Gizhiigin (“grow fast”) is a project of the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council’s Economic Development Division. Gizhiigin is also the recipient of a 2019 Indigenous Arts Ecology Grant from First Peoples Fund. They work with culture bearers in their community to foster growth, promote local artists, assist with skill development and marketplace goals, and provide artists with space and resources for entrepreneurial development.
Making space for artists in conversations about Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and capacity building for communities nationwide, First Peoples Fund was excited to take part in the 4th Annual Native CDFI Capital Access Convening. Tosa Two Heart (Oglala Lakota), First Peoples Fund Program Manager of Community Development, presented reports and models from our Indigenous Arts Ecology program at the convening as part of a panel of presenters that included Vicky Holt Takamine (Native Hawaiian), Duncan Ka’ohu Seto (Native Hawaiian), and Liz Takamori (Native Hawaiian).
PAʻI Foundation was established in 2001 as the nonprofit organization of Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima, a hālau hula (school of Hawaiian dance) founded in 1977 by kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance), Victoria Holt Takamine. For their 2019 First Peoples Fund Indigenous Arts Ecology program, they are preparing artists for the opening of the new 6,000 square foot PAʻI Arts Gallery & Performing Arts Center on O’ahu, and also the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture taking place June 2020 in Honolulu.
Kenny Ramos (Barona Band of Mission Indians) is a theater artist and storyteller. His artistic experience covers acting in American Indian-written theater productions at professional regional theater companies including Cornerstone Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Rose Theater, Native Voices at the Autry, and the Kennedy Center. Kenny has facilitated theater workshops with urban Native youth at the Annual American Indian Youth Conference at UCLA and with urban Native youth at the San Diego American Indian Health Center. He is a 2019 First Peoples Fund Cultural Capital Fellow and resides in Lakeside, California.
Addison Karl (Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is a contemporary artist. His work manifests itself in drawing, painting, and sculpture in exhibitions, public art, lectures, and installation. His art projects have found their way to Hong Kong, Pakistan, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Israel, Russia, the United States, and Europe.
Support from Addison’s 2019 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership grant is helping him tell the Chickasaw story in a visual narrative. He resides in Bremerton, Washington.
Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné) is a digital artist and printmaker. She received her B.A.s in Psychology and Studio Art and graduated with Honors from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2016. During her first time at the Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA) in 2018, she won multiple awards and received exposure in the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican.
Darby is a 2019 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellow and resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Deborah A. Jojola (Isleta Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo) is an expert in a variety of mediums — painting, frescos, printmaking, ceramics, and bookmaking, with a special interest in the process of lithography. She has shown her artwork at the Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA) for over 25 years and served as curator of exhibitions at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. As an artist, she has worked nationally and internationally in Hawai’i, Canada, Russia, and Japan.
Deborah is a 2019 First Peoples Fund Cultural Capital Fellow and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.