Birch Bark Canoes and Baskets
David Moses Bridges is a traditional artist, birch bark canoe maker, educator, community activist, and co-founder of Mulankeyutmonen Nkihtakmikon (We Take Care of the Homeland), a nonprofit organization committed to protecting and preserving Wabanaki original territories. David's birch bark skin canoes are built to match the traditional hull forms developed by his people, the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Malecite. While construction each canoe, he uses traditional methods of fastening and joining which is a technique where no nails, screws or other metal fasteners are used. David was taught traditional basketry techniques from his grandmother and makes basketry tools for the Wabanaki ash splint basketweavers in his region. "As I work within our Wabanaki communities, I feel a deep connection with the past and I remind our young epople that this work is not mine alone...it was created by the land and our people," remarks David.
"David's canoes (his art) are based on a particular worldview that's not only uniquely Passamaquoddy, it is an expression that promises and speaks to Passamaquoddy cultural vitality and creativity." - Vera Francis, Nominator
“Susan is a dynamic advocate and cultural mentor in the local Native community. She is passionate about the health of the environment as well as sustaining cultural arts. She truly feels rich in culture and is fulfilled knowing she is doing her part in continuing the traditional arts of our people. Her energy, happiness and personal fulfillment is awesome to be around and motivates me to be more like her.” – Maggie Lee Peters, Nominator
Ms. Chichinoff Thadei is a fourth generation Unanagax^, Aleut artist whose grandparents were displaced from their original homelands, the Unga Island of the Aleutian Chain, Alaska. Her Peoples ancestral homelands stretch from the Alaska peninsula across the top of the North Pacific Ocean and twelve hundred miles west towards Siberia. Lois' family was embraced by the Tlingit Haida community in southweast Alaska. During World War II, many of her relatives were held captive in internment camps by the U.S. military and also taken to POW camps in Japan. Eventually her family 'ran' inland to Canada moving further from their original territory. Although Lois returned to Southeast Alaska, she spent much of her adulthood 'always on the edge and always on the run."
Lois was reared in a family where creativity was neither discouraged nor encouraged, it was simply expected. Today she is an award winning basketweaver who tirelessly shares with others her passion for weaving. She says, 'weaving is the core of my creative expression." Lois is inspired by the 'echoes of voices' from those who recently passed on and guided by the 'ancient hands' of her ancestors. It is from this inspiration that she believes each piece of art determines its own dimension and form. She added, "I offer only the hands...others are the heart and soul of my work."
"Lois is a tireless teacher and artists...teaching by example while engaging people in almost a magical way...one always feels richer having spent even a little time with her." - Pete Peterson, Sr., Nominator
Warm Springs, Oregon
Ms. Santos is an artist, historian, and traditional fisherwoman. Susana is a long time environmental activist who has committed much of her life to safeguarding traditional fishing societies and practices along the Columbia River. Her recent struggle with ovarian cancer brought her home and on a personal journey of spiritual transformation and artistic growth. She creates art as an effort to 'manifest and explore the human spirit and to heal the wounded spirits." She says, "I believe Art has curative powers. My new directive in Medicine Art is to first heal myself, and our people with a formula that we developed to fight cancer." Susana's healing work and practice is inspired from prayers and ceremonies of medicine societies and people throughout the world, the Canadian and Amazon rainforests, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and other Indigenous and interfaith communities. Susana believes strongly that for their continued survival, "the next generation [of youth] may very well be dependent on our art and how we act today."
"Susana has always been so generous with herself. Through sharing her skills and talents with others, especially the youth, she has assisted directly in the transformation of many lives through artistic expression, cultural teaching, and by providing valuable information she has learned along her path about caring for our Mother Earth and all she provides us."
- Susan Balbas, Nominator
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Mrs. Two Bulls was born and lived over 79 years in the Payabaya Community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is a direct descendent of Chief Man Afraid of His Horse. Nellie was married to Matthew Two Bulls for over 50 years and together they had seven children. The family now includes 30 grandchildren and over 64 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and over 100 hunka children and grandchildren. At the age of 12 Nellie received her Indian name Zintkala To Win (Blue Bird Woman) through a vision in which she was given the gifts of Songs and Stories. Since this time she has dedicated her life to fulfilling this vision by teaching the culture, songs and traditions of the Lakota People. Nellie says, "My art is my ability to sing and tell stories about my people, the Oglala Lakota. I have spent the majority of my life telling stories, and singing the traditional Lakota songs. This is my contribution to preserving our culture."
"Grandmother Nellie's mind and spirit are sacred repositories for the songs and stories of the Lakota people. Her voice evokes the old days but resonates with all who listen to her in these changing times. Whether at home on Pine Ridge Reservation, on the road to some cultural event in thecountry, singing an honoring song, or telling a story to instill virtues, Grandmother Nellie's artistic expression will continue to educate and enliven community members and visitors long into the future." - Jeff and Linda Lea Viken, Nominators