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Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

Four Native movers and shakers are the recipients of a $25,000 cash award and fellowship opportunity provided by the Forge Project, an initiative in New York created to “to support established and emerging Indigenous leaders in the land justice, education, and cultural fields with financial support and a residency.”

In addition to the cash award, each of the four will also be able to secure use of the Forge Project property located in the Hudson Valley. The Forge House property, designed by the world-renowned Chinese artisan Ai Weiwei in collaboration with HHF Architects, consists of two large wood and corrugated metal buildings that contain a living space, studio space and an illuminated art gallery.

The recipients announced by the Forge Project are Oneida professor and the founding principal of studio:indigenous Chris Cornelius, Ho-Chunk Nation and Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka, Menominee writer, student and environmental advocate Jasmine Neosh and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, student, language teacher and tribal council member Brock Schreiber.

The Forge fellowship project has awarded a cash prize and residency to four Native fellows. (From left to right) They are Oneida designer Chris Cornelius, Menominee writer Jasmine Neosh, Mohican language teacher Brock Schreiber and Ho-Chunk/Pechanga filmmaker Sky Hopinka. (Courtesy images Forge Project)

During the term of their fellowship, the four fellows will inhabit the Forge space on a rotating schedule according to their own schedules. When each of them inhabits the space they will work on their own projects. Cornelius will be working to further the outreach of studio:indigenous a “design and consulting practice serving American Indian clients.” Hopinka will be working on a multimedia film and text project. Neosh will be conducting research and working to develop a new podcast and Schreiber will be working to further his language preservation and education efforts.

“Receiving the Forge Project fellowship has been a powerful gift as my Community and myself work to revitalize our Mohican language," Schreiber wrote to Indian Country Today in an email. "Personally, it has provided me more freedom to dedicate myself to the language by removing financial barriers.  Although my wife and children have proven their willingness to give as much of themselves to the language as I have, this opportunity has lifted a significant burden knowing that they will not have to sacrifice on my behalf.”

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The Forge Project, founded by Becky Gochman and Zach Feuer, is led and managed by two Indigenous directors, Executive Director Candice Hopkins, Carcross / Tagish First Nation, and Education Director Heather Bruegl, Oneida / Stockbridge-Munsee.

Both Hopkins and Bruegl offered words of encouragement to the fellows and support to the Forge Project program in their release.

“We’re thrilled to launch Forge with these incredible fellows and excited to see how the program continues to grow in the years to come,” Hopkins said. “The Forge Project Fellowship is only the first of several resources and initiatives being developed in support of Indigenous communities, our partners, and our neighbors in the region, and we look forward to sharing more as Forge Project continues to develop and grow.”

“It is extremely exciting to be able to put together this fellowship program and house it in the Mahicannituck River Valley on the land of the Mu-he-con-ne-ok. Being able to bring together Indigenous leaders is an honor,” Bruegl said. “Indigenous people are shaking up the world and making our voices heard now more than ever. Being able to be a small part of that is what makes this job amazing. And to do it on the land of my ancestors is beyond humbling. It makes it possible for their voices to be heard again.”

“It’s an honor to host these brilliant artists, activists, and leaders at Forge, and to support their powerful work,” said Gochman in the release. “We can’t wait to welcome this accomplished group, and to see what might come of their time here.”

Though there were four fellows selected this year, organizers at the Forge Project say that in the future, the numbers of participating fellows will grow. 

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