October 30, 2011

Cheyenne ornaments for National Christmas Tree

Northern Cheyenne artist and students make ornaments for National Christmas Tree

By Zach BenoitIt's not often that a self-taught Montana artist gets national recognition from the federal government.

And it's practically unheard of for a group of Northern Cheyenne art students at Chief Dull Knife College—total enrollment, about 260 students—to have their work on display in Washington, D.C., for thousands of people to see.

But that's exactly what will happen beginning Dec. 1. Since mid-October, Billings-based Northern Cheyenne artist Alaina Buffalo Spirit and about 10 art students from the college have been crafting Montana's ornaments for this year's National Christmas Tree display and the tree in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, both in Washington.

"I want to show the nation what these Northern Cheyenne students can do," Buffalo Spirit said.

Involving students

Buffalo Spirit was selected as Montana's artist to create 24 decorations for the trees, which are sponsored by the National Park Foundation. One of the rules this year is that the artist must create the decorations with the help of a local youth arts group.

After considering several youth and student groups, Buffalo Spirit said her decision to work with the college's Foundations of Art class came down to one question: "Who's going to be mature enough to do the task?"
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Ornaments on "History Tree" and Blackfeet Ornaments at White House.

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