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NATIVE ARTS AND CULTURES FOUNDATION HOSTS ITS FIRST CONVENING OF NATIVE ARTS AND CULTURES FIELD

 


PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 4 – One hundred Native artists, musicians, writers, educators, and representatives of Native artist service organizations and museums from 25 states gathered today in Portland for “Strengthening the Bones,” the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s (NACF) first convening of the Native arts and cultures field. The convening, which runs through tomorrow, includes performances, panels, breakout sessions, and unique networking opportunities.

“The participants at this historic gathering represent the four directions and four corners of our diverse Native arts and cultures field,” said Convening Emcee Linley Logan (Seneca).

The convening’s theme, “Strengthening the Bones,” refers to Native Hawaiians’ ongoing care of iwi, or bones of the ancestors. Iwi is the foundation upon which a reciprocal relationship is established between the living and those who have left the earth.

“I was born to know the vast and permeating nexus between the Native arts and the maintenance of cultural continuance in contemporary Native communities,” said W. Richard West, Jr. (Southern Cheyenne), NACF board member and founding director and director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, who delivered the keynote address. “The statement that Native artists, past and present, are the 'culture bearers of our Native communities' is not some mechanical and rote rhetorical cultural maxim – I believe that it also happens to be complete truth.”

“But if it is truth, then every person in this room has genuine responsibilities to our Native communities,” said West.

The Convening has four objectives: to map and share individual strengths and priorities; to identify collective connections and energy; to identify strategies and action steps for supporting Native arts coalitions; and identify strategies and action steps for Native arts advocacy efforts.

“This convening is about nurturing and also strengthening the relationships that will, hopefully, last forever,” said NACF President and CEO T. Lulani Arquette. “We are here to explore what strengths in the field exist at this moment in time, and to share with one another how we can ‘strengthen the bones,’ or foundation, of the Native arts and cultures field for present and for future generations.”

The day included evening performances by Vicky Holt Takamine (Native Hawaiian), Kumu Hula and executive director of the Pa’i Foundation, Honululu (the Foundation was a 2010 NACF grantee); Robi Kahakalau (Native Hawaiian), musician and recording artist; and Jamaica Osorio (Native Hawaiian), slam poet. The evening concluded with a screening of “On the Ice,” directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiat). It is the first feature length fiction film made in Alaska by an Iñupiat writer/director (MacLean) with an entirely Inuit cast. It has met with critical acclaim both nationally and internationally since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“This convening is a dream come true,” said NACF Board of Directors Founding Member and Secretary Elizabeth Woody (Warm Springs, Wasco, Navajo). “We are here because we have that ancestral spirit [with us] and we are passing that along.”

The Convening’s sponsors include The Nathan Cummings Foundation, LarsonAllen, Union Bank, and The Ford Foundation.

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is the first national 501(c)(3) charity committed to building a fund dedicated exclusively to foster the revitalization, appreciation and continuity of Native arts and cultures. In late 2010, the Foundation awarded its first grants totalling $394,319 to 26 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and organizations in 12 states.

To learn more about the NACF, visit http://www.nativeartsandcultures.org and sign up for the free e-newsletter. Become a fan of the organization on Facebook.

 

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