Higher education institutions take great pride in their historic structures that hold cultural significance. At Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC), that structure happens to be a tipi.
CCCC serves the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation in Fort Totten, North Dakota. It is one of 34 tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) that were created to provide higher education for Native students that are located or near rural reservation communities and supported by the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund). TCUs weave Native language, history, and culture into their curriculum.
The tipi serves as the perfect example of the holistic nature of TCU education, which integrates place, community, and cultural values into curriculum. The tipi, a gift from Travois, a Kansas City, Missouri-based consulting firm, and the College Fund, a national non-profit organization supporting Native students and TCUs, was used to publicize “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Travois, a museum corporate partner, gave the tipi to the College Fund to further awareness of its work, the TCUs, and Native cultures.
This tipi marries the functionality of traditional Plains Indians architecture with modern art. Its side walls served as a canvas for Native artists Ryan RedCorn (Osage), of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Bobby Wilson (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), of Phoenix. Both artists are members of the renowned 1491s comedy troupe, which has appeared on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” and TEDx Talks. Elizabeth Glynn, CEO of Travois, said, “We know the 1491s, and we love their work. Ryan and Bobby created a mural at our headquarters, and we welcomed the opportunity to work together again. We hope the tipi can be used to help create more recognition of American Indian students and to encourage arts education.”
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “The American Indian College Fund’s facilitation of the donation by Travois of a tipi painted by two leading Native artists and performers reflects the commitment of all parties to preserving our cultural arts and honoring our traditions. We are proud to be part of this partnership and thank Travois for making it possible.”
Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, President of CCCC, said, “The gift of a painted tipi to CCCC is immeasurable! The teaching, learning, and practicing of Dakota values are core to our work as educators for the Spirit Lake Dakota community. The tipi will contribute to art, culture, history, and all our programs of study toward the development and success of our students. Setting up tipi is a key task when we hold culture camps for college and high school students as well as teaching them about the practical aspects of making, living in, and transporting a tipi.”
Travois is a mission-driven consulting firm focused exclusively on promoting housing and economic development for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. Since 1995, Travois has brought investor equity to 198 projects through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and New Markets Tax Credit program, making an impact of more than $1 billion across Indian Country. These private investor funds have helped build or rehabilitate more than 5,100 homes and have helped finance critical economic development projects, including infrastructure, health care, community centers, education facilities and other businesses. The Travois family of companies also offers architectural design and construction monitoring services, environmental assessments, consulting on green energy improvements, asset management and compliance services and comprehensive training to clients in 22 states, from Hawaii and Alaska to Maine. For more information, please visit www.travois.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram or on the company blog.
The 17th Annual Travois Indian Country Affordable Housing & Economic Development Conference, created to provide information about Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits, will be held April 3-5, 2017, in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit https://travois.com/news-events/annual-conference-information/.