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News Release

Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) is seeking applicants for its community engaging, Native American Artist-in-Residence (NAAIR) program. NAAIR artists study MNHS collections in order to better understand their respective art forms and then share their knowledge with the community. More information and the application are available at https://www.mnhs.org/residencies/naair.

“Having the privilege of getting to work so closely with Native American Artists-in-Residence over the years has shown the positive impact this program has had on both the artists and their respective communities,” said Rita Walaszek Arndt, White Earth Ojibwe, collections outreach specialist for Native American Initiatives, MNHS. “Each artist brings others along throughout their residency journey. This can be seen in their work and its lasting effects in the community.”

Native American Artists in Residence receive $25,000 for collections study and development of community programs as well as extensive support and training from MNHS staff, interns and consultants. Artists develop a community-based project inspired by their research in order to disseminate new knowledge of the art form in the artist’s home community.

Advancing Understanding of Traditional Native American Art Forms

For more than eight years, the Native American Artist-in-Residence program has supported 14 Native American artists working within traditional art forms such as ash basketry, canoe making and quillwork. Research has focused on the evolution of the jingle dress in Ojibwe culture, the history of Dakota floral designs, making a dugout canoe and more. Watch NAAIR artists’ stories and learn more on YouTube.

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Past artists-in-residence include Gerald White (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) who studied the process for creating ball-headed clubs or bikwaakadoo-baagamaagan. White says, "The handmade bagamaagan is now an endangered item in our community. The carvers I know of number less than the fingers on one hand in the whole of the midwest." Gerald worked closely with his son, Raining White, as his apprentice.

Past Native American Artist-in-Residence artist Dr. Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa) studied pre-contact tribal art of birch bark biting. Today, birch bark biting continues in Turtle Mountain and Lajimodiere has published several books including Josie Dances (MNHS Press, 2021). Jeremy Red Eagle (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) examined cultural games related to teachings of Dakota manhood. He is a language and cultural arts lifelong learner and teacher at Sisseton Wahpeton College. Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe Fond du Lac Nation) artist, teacher, designer and community organizer, studied Ojibwe split-toe moccasins and created a pattern book which she distributed to community members through public workshops.

The Native American Artist-in-Residence program is open to Native American artists currently residing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota who are currently permitted to work within the United States. Enrollment in a federally recognized tribe is not a requirement, but the artist must be recognized by his or her community and demonstrate significant artistic knowledge.

The Native American Artists-in-Residence program is funded by Margaret A Cargill Philanthropies.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, Minnesota Historical Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.

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