First Peoples Fund chooses its Community Spirit Honorees for their commitment to sustaining the cultural values of Native people. Artists are absolutely central to producing the tangible, visible forms of creation that help the people know who they are. They manifest the tools that support the spiritual practices of the people: the beadwork and clothing that prepare the dancers for the dance; the pipes for ceremony; the drums and rattles for the songs and prayers. Visioning is an important part of all native cultures, and producing art gives presence to the visions of the people.
The same Spirit that guides artists' work also drives artists to do service in their communities. Artists convey the sacred meanings behind the materials they use. Artists honor the eagle and the grass in the crafting of the bows and arrows, the baskets, the dance regalia, the headdresses. When artists show the meaning of the beautiful things they make, it helps heal the Peoples spirits and shows how others can also give back.
The process of bringing spirit back to community is an important responsibility for artists - it is part of a sacred honor system. First Peoples Fund works strengthen that honor system by recognizing these exceptional artists for knowing themselves, honoring others, and sustaining spirit in their own communities.
Previous Year Community Spirit Award recipients are eligible to participate in our Cultural Capital Grant Program.
Note: In addition to Visual Arts, First Peoples recognizes contemporary and traditional forms of Performing Arts and Literary Arts.