Four Tribal Colleges Awarded Three-Year Grants to Preserve and Restore Traditional Native Art

June 17, 2014
The American Indian College Fund has awarded four three-year grants of $50,000 each to tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the upper-Midwest through a program designed to increase the intergenerational transfer of artistic and cultural knowledge and processes from elders to adults and children and to provide direct support for Native artists, while stemming the tide of lost and endangered cultural art forms in tribal communities. The program is funded by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Awardees include: Leech Lake Tribal College of Cass Lake, Minnesota; Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota; Sinte Gleska University, Mission, South Dakota; and Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, South Dakota.

Leech Lake Tribal College will create a Traditional Native Arts certificate program for enrolled students; develop a master and apprentice program for quillwork for four to five members of the community; create community classes to teach how to process a whole deer and its’ hide; classes on birch bark work including canoe-making; and woodland clay pottery and basket-making with various fibers.

Oglala Lakota College will use its grant to provide existing academic courses with more supplies and materials, cultural artifacts, and teaching materials; hire additional traditional artists for its summer series; and encourage instructional centers to provide more mini-workshops on traditional Native cultural art forms.

Sinte Gleska University will explore developing certificate programs in specific traditional arts such as the use of bison products for creating ceremonial and daily use items and as a medium for mixing other arts (tanning hides, painting of hides, skulls and other bone segments, beaded and quilled items using primary bison bones and hides); provide workshops in each of the 20 reservation communities and on campus; and develop competencies for certifying master artists through alternative credentialing and degree attainment.

Turtle Mountain Community College will strengthen offerings in Traditional Native Arts through four interlocking strategies, including the formalization of a cultural artist committee which will provide the cultural knowledge to broaden the framework of traditional arts; develop an archival body of knowledge; establish a system to use master artists and apprentices as instructors; and develop Traditional Native Arts coursework in which the schedule is adapted to the cultural art form.