Community Spirit Awards

Anna Brown Ehlers - National Heritage Award

Anna Brown Ehlers - National Heritage Award

Anna Brown Ehlers remembers the moment when she first dreamed of becoming a Chilkat weaver. She was four, Alaska had just become a state, and her uncle was dancing in his traditional Chilkat blanket during a community celebration.

“I saw that beautiful design and those rich colors. I watched the fringe gracefully moving back and forth as my uncle danced, and I knew I hoped I could do that someday,” she said.

Fifty-eight years later, Anna has been recognized as among the country’s foremost artists by the National Endowment for the Arts through a National Heritage Fellowship. The awards were announced in June. In 2001, First Peoples Fund honored Anna through a Community Spirit Award for her work to revitalize and pass on Chilkat weaving, an art form that was nearly lost in her lifetime.

Ho'omai'ka'i 'ana, Cyril

Ho'omai'ka'i 'ana, Cyril

Two of First Peoples Fund’s Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award honorees, Chilkat weaver Anna Brown Ehlers (Tlingit) and slack key guitar master Cyril Lani Pahinui (Native Hawaiian) received the 2017 National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Award, which were announced last week.

When we reached out to Cyril, a 2013 Community Spirit honoree, to congratulate him, he sent back the beautiful message below filled with aloha, love and community spirit, which we share with you. A post about Anna is coming soon. Cyril has been battling health issues and working composing and teaching from a hospital bed for more than a year.

Master Folk and Traditional Artists Receive Top Honor

Master Folk and Traditional Artists Receive Top Honor

First Peoples Fund is excited to share that two of our Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award honorees have received the 2017 National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Award, announced last week. Chilkat weaver Anna Brown Ehlers (Tlingit) was a Community Spirit Award honoree in 2001, and slack key guitar master Cyril Lani Pahinui (Native Hawaiian) was a 2013 honoree. 

Carrying On

Carrying On

The aroma of beef stew and rice welcomed some of the greatest Hawaiian musicians to Cyril Lani Pahinui’s home as his father’s fame grew. The setting was perfect for the rejuvenation of Hawai’i musical traditions. But it wasn’t easy for Cyril to learn.

Creating New Patterns of Healing

Creating New Patterns of Healing

A member of the Chilkat Indian Village Tribe in Klukwan, Alaska, Lani Hotch (Tlingit) weaves contemporary woolens in the Pacific Northwest tradition. She is a 2011 First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award honoree, a founding member and on the board of the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center nonprofit organization, and a member of the Ravenstail Weaver’s Guild.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu to Visit Rapid City, South Dakota, October 7- 8, 2016

On October 7-8, 2016, Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will travel to Rapid City, South Dakota, where she will visit organizations that are actively engaging, serving, and promoting the arts in the Native American community.

Standing on the Kumu's Shoulders

Standing on the Kumu's Shoulders

The class gathers and sits on mats to prepare for a lauhala weaving class. “Lauhala” simply means “leaf from a hala tree.” But this isn’t simply a craft class. There is protocol, an ancient way to approach this art that was taught to Duncan Ka’ohu Seto (Native Hawaiian) by master weavers of his time. Now Ka’ohu is a master weaver, and it is his turn to be the kumu, the teacher.

To Help People Grieve

To Help People Grieve

Jennie Wheeler (Tlingit) gathers a family at the local church in her Native fishing village of Yakutat, Alaska, and teaches them to create their dance dresses, boots, and moccasins for the upcoming memorial potlatch. They talk and support one another.