Keevin Lewis (Navajo), a coordinator of the Artist Leadership Program at the National Museum of the American Indian has written an interesting post in conjunction with Holly Nordlum (Inupiaq), Gerald Cournoyer (Oglala Lakota), and Nathalie Picard (Huron-Wendat) about their experiences working with the National Museum of the American Indian in its Artist Leadership Program.
"I came to the National Museum of American Indian to gather information about Iroquoian music, musical instruments, and traditional longhouse songs to share with my community and teach the teens and young adults in Wendake. I was amazed that there was an enormous amount of cultural material in the collections of the Smithsonian from my tribe, too! What a gold mine of objects, images, and knowledge from my culture! It is very touching to see up close so many objects in the Smithsonian collections. This research experience doesn't compare to looking at pictures in publications or seeing objects on exhibit. "
"enables indigenous artists to research, document, and network in Washington, D.C., then return home empowered with new artistic insights, skills, and techniques to share with their communities and the general public the value of Native knowledge through art. The program aims to rebuild cultural self-confidence, challenge personal boundaries, and foster cultural continuity while reflecting artistic diversity.
The program’s primary objectives are for individual indigenous artists to focus on artistic processes while researching the vast collections of the Smithsonian Institution (SI); meet and consult with staff at SI and other arts organizations; participate in a public art panel discussion, speaking as voices of authority on their art; and break down stereotypes about indigenous art.
The program’s secondary objectives include to mentor young artists in collaboration with elders; convene local artists for networking and to share ideas and resources; affirm that indigenous arts hold value and knowledge; and through indigenous arts, offer communities a means for healing and new ways to exchange cultural information."
For more information,
visit the National Museum of the American Indian's
For additional history of the program, visit the