A portrait of Native artist Chanelle Gallagher (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe) throwing pottery in her studio.
A portrait of Ed Carriere (Suquamish), Traditional Knowledge Keeper & Weaver standing on the coastline looking out at the ocean
A portrait of Kaylene Big Knife (Chippewa Cree Tribe) leaning against a wall

Collective Spirit Podcast

The Collective Spirit moves each of us to stand up and make a difference, to pass on ancestral knowledge, and simply extend a hand of generosity. Each Collective Spirit podcast features one Native artist or culture bearer discussing the power of Indigenous art and culture.

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Tiana Spotted Thunder, an Oglala Lakota musician, shares the rich tapestry of sound that weaves traditional powwow rhythms with the contemporary beats of hip-hop and R&B. Her voice, a conduit for heritage and healing, shares the complexities of her musical journey, revealing the personal joys and challenges she faces in the studio. Tiana's artistry is a surprising kaleidoscope, as she confesses her love for genres as diverse as grunge and alternative rock, which color her creative expression.The music Tiana crafts bears the weight of memory, the lightness of hope, and the colors of our deepest emotions. In a heartfelt discussion with Talon Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Lakota), Program Manager of the Wicahpi Olowan Music Program and Studio, we uncover the sacred art of songwriting as a tribute to those who have danced ahead to the spirit world. Talon's conversation with Tiana delves into the intricacies of composing in Lakota, the language of her ancestors, and the delicate dance of self-accompaniment. Learn more about the First Peoples Fund - Wicahpi Olowan Music Program and Studio at https://bit.ly/WicahpiOlowan

Alison Bremner (Tlingit, '23 Cultural Capital Fellow) recounts the pivotal moments that led her to embrace her cultural heritage through art, like the sparks that flew at the Celebration dance festival in Juneau. Her words paint vivid pictures of her artistic evolution, from the early days of form line painting to her deeply respected mentorships. Allison candidly discusses the balancing act of a self-employed artist, from the thrill of commercial success to the profound duty of crafting traditional pieces for cultural ceremonies. She opens up about the support system that's crucial not just to survive but to thrive in this space, weaving a narrative that affirms the significance of community in an artist's life.

When Wakaya Wells, a two-spirit poet from the Choctaw Nation, speaks of the sanctuary they found in writing, it's more than just words on a page—it's a testament to the power of self-expression in navigating one's identity. Our latest episode invites listeners into Wakaya's inspiring journey, revealing how education at Dartmouth and the Institute of American Indian Arts became the forge for their transformation into a fiction writer and a voice within their respective communities. Their narrative is a beacon for anyone who's wrestled with inner turmoil, demonstrating how one can channel the chaos of conflicting ideologies and mixed emotions into a wellspring of strength and enlightenment.

2022 Community Spirit Award Honoree Renee Dillards' (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) rhythmic storytelling reminds us that the art of weaving is a thread that connects us to the Earth and each other. As a natural fiber weaver, Renee shares an intimate portrayal of her life's tapestry, woven with reverence for Mother Earth. Her narrative is a healing balm, rekindling a connection to heritage that transcends the atrocities of boarding school traumas. Through her eloquent words, we witness the revival of ancestral arts and the vital role women play in this cultural resurgence. As Renee's hands shape traditional cattail mats, she stitches together a community dedicated to their forebears' sustainable and prayerful practices, a poignant reminder of the resilience and continuity of Indigenous peoples.

When 2023 Artist in Business Leadership fellow Deleana Uses Knife (Lakota) creates work, the colors seem to dance and stories come alive. Embark on an inspiring journey with this exceptional Lakota artist from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, whose passion for graphic design, mural creation, and dreams of animation bring the narratives of the Black Hills and Devil's Tower into vivid focus. Selena's art is more than a visual feast; it's a beacon of cultural preservation, a testament to her dedication to storytelling, and a challenge to the stereotypes that have long confined indigenous voices. Our conversation reveals how her support from the First People's Fund catalyzed her creativity, leading to a studio of her own and recognition such as the Emerging Artist Award. As she sets her sights on collaborating with giants like Walt Disney, Selena becomes a true muse for aspiring artists everywhere.

In our conversation with 2023 Community Spirit Award honoree Tom Pohaku Stone, we are embraced by the profound essence of Native Hawaiian culture. His voice carries the resilience of his people, the reverence for the land and the ocean that has nurtured them. As a guardian of tradition, Tom's story unfolds from the roots of his extended family upbringing, through the intricate crafts of woodworking and stone carving, and into his vital role in educating the young stewards of Hawaiian identity. The tapestry of his life is a testament to the enduring struggle for Indigenous sovereignty and the importance of maintaining a cultural legacy amidst the forces of colonization.

2023 Cultural Capital Fellow Penny Kagigebi (Ojibwe), a Queer2-Spirit artist from the White Earth Reservation, unveils their transformative experiences with grief and the pursuit of Queer2-Spirit cultural reclamation through indigenous art forms. Through their narrative, we're listeners and companions on her journey to alignment with the Earth's vibrations, using natural materials like birch bark and porcupine quills steeped in therapeutic resonance. Penny's candor about their family's painful history with forced relocations and boarding schools offers a potent reminder of the resilience in preserving generational knowledge and identity.

2022 Artist in Business Leadership Fellows, Golga Oscar (Kasigluk Elders Traditional Council - Yup'ik Nation) weaves a narrative of his personal odyssey back to their Indigenous roots. Through their vivid recounting, we're transported to a world where ancient parka making and beadwork are more than mere crafts; they're lifelines to a heritage persistently navigating the torrents of Westernization. Golga's voice resonates with a passion for the painstaking reclamation of ancestral wisdom, which blossoms into an urgent call for the current and future custodians of Yupiq traditions to preserve the irreplaceable artistry ingrained in their identity.

This episode is a heartfelt exploration of "The Root Experience," where 2023 Cultural Capital Fellow James Pakootas (Confederated Tribes of Colville Reserve) unveils his journey to breathe new life into Native culture by weaving together the threads of ancestral tales with the vibrant energy of modern art forms. We embark on an auditory pilgrimage, traversing the landscape of historical narrative and contemporary issues, such as the influence of the Grand Coulee Dam on tribal life, all while championing the resurgence of indigenous identity through film, hip-hop, and dance.

2023 Artist in Business Leadership fellow Lisa Kennedy (Saginaw Chippewa) is a beacon of indigenous art. Join us as Lisa takes us through her vibrant tapestry of life – from humble beginnings to crafting a legacy. She and her partner, Adam Avery, illuminate the rich cultural heritage by intertwining traditional art forms like beadwork and black ash basket weaving with contemporary narratives. Lisa's academic prowess in public administration also comes into play, showcasing how one can serve one's community by marrying cultural teachings with modern strategies. Her candid account of overcoming self-doubt to embrace her role as a knowledge keeper is a striking reminder of the resilience woven into the fabric of indigenous stories.

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