Now that the weather seems to be changing, school buses have reappeared in my neighborhood, the state fair is winding to a glorious close, and we Minnesotans begin to prepare for the fall and our hearty winter season. I thought this would be a good time to begin a new dialogue. So many times, we focus on what is wrong in communities and not enough on what is working. Over the next several months, I am going to take the opportunity to highlight organizations and events that are doing fantstic work to improve our social, economic and cultural life.
In my travels, I've had the opportunity to witness the beautiful artistry of American Indian artists. I am moved by the depth, breadth, and creativity of Native American artists and I wanted to share this upcoming event with all of you.
This event is a great opportunity in the Twin Cities to celebrate the arts and cultural heritage of the first peoples of this country. I hope to see you there!
(MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MN) –First Peoples Fund is proud to announce that the prestigious national Community Spirit Awards will be held at the SteppingStone Theatre in St. Paul on September 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
The Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards recognize those using the arts to sustain the values of native people. The honorees are deeply committed to connecting their communities to a shared history and culture. They manifest the tools supporting the spiritual practices of the people: the beadwork and clothing that prepare dancers for the dance; the pipes for ceremony; the drum and rattles for the songs and prayers.
In addition to recognition, there will be performances by honorees, Tuscarora singers Ulali, and Twin Cities Native artists Larry Yazzie and Midnite Express Drum Group. There also will be an opportunity to meet the honorees and guest performers at a public reception immediately following the program.
First Peoples Fund is honored to recognize six artists, all working to build community and honor culture. The honorees include:
Alfred “Bud” Lane III (Siletz); Siletz, OR.Bud learned the utilitarian art of Siletz basketry from his elders and contemporary weavers. He has spent his adult life involved in perpetuating traditional Siletz culture through revitalization of the Athabaskan Language and the revival of ancient basket weaving techniques.Bud is recognized as a Master Weaver with the Northwest Native Basketweavers Association, where he currently serves as the President of the long-standing organization. He has been deeply involved in tribal government, serving nearly a decade on the Siletz Tribal Council and is currently in his second term as the Tribal Council Vice-chairman.  
Richard Zane Smith (Wyandot); Wyandot, OK. Richard uses Wyandot language, storytelling, singing and ceramics as a method of healing within his community while focusing much of his energies on preschool and elementary children. He also teaches ceramic courses to adults. He strongly believes that “art” is not extracurricular but foundational to a healthy society and that “without art, society is without heart and soul.”
Trudie Lamb Richmond (Schaghticote); Ledyard, CT. Trudie was born and raised on the Schaghticoke reservation in northwestern Connecticut, but her storytelling and teachings are shared amongst other tribal members in southern New England who share a common history and culture. Trudie believes that the role of storytelling is essential to cultural survival and that this form of art teaches us about our relationship and responsibilities to the natural world. In her efforts to maintain a sense of pride and community amongst tribal members she plans and organizes social and education activities while encouraging a deep connection to original homelands. Currently, Trudie serves as the Program Director at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.
Wade Fernandez (Menominee); Keshena, Wisconsin. A professional musician and songwriter/composer, Wade teaches a mixture of Menominee style and modern blues, rock, country, jazz, soul and folk music using native flute and guitar, hand drum, percussion, bass, keyboards, bouzouki, mandolin and the harmonica. He also teaches native flute and guitar lessons at the Menominee Tribal School and is honored knowing that many of his students have gone on to perform nationally.
Ramona Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag); Mashpee, MA. Ramona works with clay and other natural materials making ceramic vessels. She uses and teaches the ways of the ancestors, aware of collaborating with the elements of fire, water, earth and air. She chose to revive the lost form of Wampanoag pottery, which she describes as “bringing a long relative back home.” Ramona uses her art form to nourish tribal community members about ancient practices. Oftentimes upon returning home she finds freshly dug clay on her doorsteps from community members. She finds joy in teaching others and has a deep desire to use her knowledge as a form of healing. Some of her students have gone on to teach their own children.
Therese St. Cyr (Oglala Lakota); Winnebago, Nebraska. Therese was taught by her grandmother at a young age to dance and create beadwork. Therese taught herself how to make burial moccasins and clothing, and is often called upon by tribal members who require the moccasins within a short period of time. As she says, “With the guidance of the Creator, I often think that these items are the last thing their loved ones will ever wear and that I made them for their journey.” Through her gifts of making traditional regalia she started her own youth dance group, Many Moccasins Dance Troupe. 
First Peoples Fund is also recognizing Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) for her long-time community work in the areas of social justice, treaty rights, and cultural sustainability.
“We are truly excited to bring the Community Spirit Awards to the Twin Cities, which has a strong and rich history of supporting Native American arts,” says Lori Pourier, President of First People’s Fund. “These individual artists have a spirit and love for life, which causes us to pause for a moment and simply reflect on the greater society, the beauty of the human spirit, and our own generosity toward others.”
The Community Spirit Awards recognize those who give and bring spirit to their communities. Through art, indigenous artists share their inspiration, wisdom, knowledge and gifts with their communities. This process is a sacred honor, undertaken with deep humility and strength.
Drawing on a rich landscape of Native arts and culture, the 2010 ceremony will feature local American Indian artists, performers, and dancers focusing on the theme, “New Creations, Native Traditions.” Past Community Spirit Award recipients from Minnesota include, Clyde Estey (1921-2000), Carrie Estey, Ruth Waukazo, White Earth Anishnaabeg tribal members and Margaret Hill (Mille Lacs).
Founded in 1995, First Peoples Fund is a national organization dedicated to honoring and communicating the roots and philosophy of Indigenous artistic express and its relationship to the collective spirit of First Peoples.
The prestigious annual fellowship award, established in 1999, recognizes exceptional American Indian artists with a gift of $5,000. Recognized as culture bearers within their communities, artists are nominated by members of their communities. Those whom exemplify the idea of community spirit are selected by an independent panel of American Indian reviewers.
Tickets are $35 per person for the honoring ceremony and post-event reception. Contact the SteppingStone Theatre atwww.steppingstonetheatre.org or 651-225-9265 to reserve tickets.
First Peoples Fund (www.firstpeoplesfund.org). Founded in 1995, First Peoples Fund’s purpose is to honor and support the creative community-centered First Peoples artists, and nurture the collective spirit that allows them to sustain their people. The Fund is supported in part by the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture, New Works and the Indigenous Knowledge and Expressive Culture Initiatives, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bush Foundation, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, Sumasil Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation and individual donors.
Katie Eukel, 612-232-1795, Katie@fourthsectorconsulting.com
Sasha Houston Brown, 612-242-8035 sashahoustonbrown@gmail.com
Lori Pourier, 605-348-0324, lori@firstpeoplesfund.org

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