July 25, 2011

Arts help Native communities

Fortifying a Nation through Art and Cheese

Native American tribes intent on nation-building are also increasingly intent on bringing traditional artists into the process. Governance and culture must work hand in hand.

By Mary Annette Pember
All tribes, notes Bashara, have great respect for the arts, but they often find it hard to go beyond the emergency state of demands that plague many reservations.

“They don’t think that the arts might be helpful to solving those problems,” says Bashara. “Fortunately, the Oneida Nation had the forethought to know that the arts would be helpful for the community.”

Examples of arts programming include: Arts in Residency, Summer Arts Camp for Kids, Artist Services including training camps for professional development, Apprentice/Internship Program, Public Arts that develop and display art reflective of the community, Oneida Youth Choir, Dollars for Arts Program, a regranter for the Wisconsin Arts Board, Community Arts Classes and more.

Sherry Salway Black of the Oglala Lakota tribe agrees that support for the arts is a critical component of tribal nation building. Black is the Director of the Partnership for Tribal Governance at NCAI, the National Congress of American Indians.

“Art reflects the collective spirit of a people, of a nation,” declares Black. “Supporting efforts that protect, preserve and enhance this collective spirit will strengthen tribal nations and nourish its soul.”
Comment:  This article talks about traditional arts such as beading and storytelling, but it applies equally well to film, theater, music, and other popular arts. Tribes should support these arts while taking care of the basic necessities.

For more on the subject, see Pechanga to Sponsor LA Film Festival, Gaming Tribes Must Take the Lead, and Rob Should Fight Poverty?!

Below:  The Chickasaw movie Pearl.

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