In 2018, First Peoples Fund (FPF) supported 15 ABL fellows and 10 CC fellows. Becky Monnens, our Story Tracker/Data Analyst, sorted through the extensive data we collected to help us understand the impact of the fellowship on these 25 artists and culture bearers. Combined with our previously published research on the 6 Resources Artists Need to be Successful, Becky was able to identify not only encouraging data but also the beautiful stories of what our fellows accomplished and experienced throughout the year.
The Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards recognizes 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.
We are honored to announce the four recipients of the 2019 Community Spirit Awards.
Elexa Dawson is a founding member of an all-female acoustic roots band, Weda Skirts (formerly The Skirts), who have released and self-distributed two albums of original music written primarily by Elexa.
She is a mother, musician, and activist living in Chase County, Kansas, the heart of the Flint Hills. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a descendant of the Cherokee Nation with familial ties to the Chickamauga Cherokee. The tallgrass prairie on ancestral Kaw and Osage territory inspires her music and advocacy.
Kevin Locke is an internationally-recognized master traditional folk artist, visionary hoop dancer, indigenous Northern Plains flute player/recording artist, cultural ambassador, and an educator. A citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and coming from the ancestral line of Lakota and Anishinabe, he self identifies as a World Citizen.
Since 1978, Kevin has traveled to nearly 100 countries to educate, entertain, engage, and empower 1,000,000 people. He currently serves as president of the Patricia Locke Foundation.
Delving into the wealth of stunning showcases, engaging sessions, and the in-between spaces where connections are made, artists and staff from the First Peoples Fund (FPF) family took part in two prestigious performing arts conferences – APAP|NYC and NPN - and came away with inspiration, motivation, and friendships.
Gunner Jules (Sicangu Lakota) is an Alternative R&B recording and performing artist. He grew up with his family on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He currently works in the Sicangu MVP program as a mentor to young males recovering from violence and other trauma.
Gunner is releasing a new song in January 2019 called “Energies,” making it available on all streaming platforms. He is expecting to release his first album this spring.
He is a 2017 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership fellow and 2019 Cultural Capital fellow.
Sheldon Raymore (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) is a storyteller, second-generation tipi maker, visual artist, actor, choreographer, cultural consultant, count keeper, and an award-winning grass dancer.
He starred in ABC’s Born to Explore with Richard Weiss “Legend of Dance” where he was the featured grass dancer at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Sheldon was awarded the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Community Arts Fund “2015 Performance Art” Grant. He is a 2019 First Peoples Fund Cultural Capital fellow and resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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: