Oneida Tribes of Wisconsin
A member of the Oneida Tribes of Wisconsin, Charlie Hill honed his skills at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles before going on to become a true legend in stand-up comedy and to do theater, television and film. According to fellow entertainer Jennifer Kreisberg who nominated him, "Charlie has opened a door and paved a road for Native performers all over Indian Country. He is strengthening our community in his own unique ways — first and foremost is his use of humor as medicine."Through his humor over more than 37 years in the entertainment industry, Hill has taken on topics of race, Native identity and oppression. "I feel strongly that laughter is one of the ultimate forms of quick healing," he says. Kreisberg adds, "Charlie has been a profile and a voice for the people and for Indian Country at large through his work. "He is tirelessly vaporizing the persistent stereotypes of our people."
Tsimshian artist David Boxley of Kingston, WA and Metlakatla, AK has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to the revitalization and rebirth of Tsimshian arts and culture. He is an accomplished master artist who focuses primarily on traditional design and carving of totem poles, bentwood boxes, rattles, performance masks and other items of his ancestors. He has also helped form four successful dance groups in Seattle and Metlakatla, showcasing the traditions of storytelling with song and dance, all featuring elaborately carved masks, rattles, box drums and other performance items. Boxley says, "It was through totem poles that my people recorded the great things that had happened to our people and our leaders. It was with design and intricately carved alder or cedar that our stories were saved and shared with pride in song and dance." According to John Aumann who nominated him, Boxley is dedicated to the revitalization and rebirth of Tsimshian arts and culture. "Nearly everyone knows what a great artist he is, but many don't realize all the other things that David does to promote his culture. He uses his knowledge of Tsimshian past traditions to breathe life into each piece of art. Many people, art collectors, gallery owners and museum personnel have come to David to have him explain or analyze his tribe's ancestral art. He is also trying to preserve his language by leading the Git-Hoan dancers and by conducting language classes."
Melissa Pond, a colleague at Leech Lake Tribal College where Anishinaabe stone sculptor Duane Goodwin teaches, says: "As an artist, Dewey Goodwin demonstrates a gift for creation, storytelling and sharing in his work. His sculptures, in particular, are renowned for their ability to unite both the spirit of the stone and the spirit of the subject." For more than 28 years, Goodwin has made countless contributions in art education and art appreciation in Bemidji and the Leech Lake Reservation. Leech Lake Tribal College Director of Advancement, Kyle Erickson who nominated Goodwin said, "While Dewey is probably best known for his work with stone, he has also taught students at Leech Lake Tribal College about drawing, painting, pottery and a host of traditional Anishinaabe arts and crafts. Students take pride in the works that they create under Dewey's instruction, and that pride translates into a better self image and better outlook on life."
Elizabeth Jaakola's art medium is music: singing, playing, writing and gathering people to make music. A life-long resident of Fond du Lac Reservation, Elizabeth has been a professional musician since 1990, composing string quartets, blues songs, hand drum songs, children's musical theater and basic folk as well as recording and teaching. Because of her actions, her community is rediscovering themselves through song and reinforcing community ties. She teaches music, American Indian studies classes, coordinates a language and culture resource center at the tribal college in Fond du Lac, and volunteers with the Anishinaabe Youth Chorus and Oshkii Giizhik Singers. Jaakola says, "I see this reinvigoration of singing traditions tightening up our relationships while also encouraging us to turn our attentions back to the language, our traditional ways, and many other aspects of being Anishinaabe. In my work, I encourage our people to find their voice, the voice that they ad used freely as a child, and nurture its use."
Classically trained Seneca painter, G. Peter Jemison, of Victor, N.Y. works in printmaking, lithography and woodcuts. He also directs film and video and is a "powerhouse of curatorial leadership", according to fellow artist Linley Logan who nominated him. Jemison says that his art is based on his interpretation of the teachings his people have been given by their messengers over the centuries of their existence. "I tell personal stories sometimes and other times I search for the big themes: life, creation, sustenance, belief, love, mystery, spirituality, humor, history, four seasons, and death," he says. Logan adds, "As a contemporary artist and curator, Pete leads the creative forefront in our communities in paving the way for our artistic expression and our collective artistic opportunities." Besides pursuing his artistic expression, Jemison manages and lives on an historic site know as Ganondagan that was a Seneca town in the 17th Century. He describes himself as "a cultural worker". "If I am successful, I can be a good example for those who are younger than me. If my art leaves a positive impression, then I will have succeeded."
As a visual and traditional Blackfeet artist, Jackie Parsons of Browning, MT says her art medium "consists of any material in my project that allows me to express what I intend the piece to portray". This has included hand-tanned buckskin, seed beads, sweet grass, wood, clay, paint, feathers, shells, bone and wool in the dresses, vests, war bonnets, dolls and other traditional items of the Blackfeet. She is a life-long resident of the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, MT and says, "My goal became to preserve the past traditional art and intertwine it with modern techniques, thus preserving the past and solidifying the future of our traditional art." Fellow member of the Montana Arts Council (where Parsons serves as chair), Cinda Holt who nominated her said, "Jackie is a teacher and source of wisdom and comfort for four generations of Blackfeet women, girls and young men. She has spent a lifetime supporting her community through art and other service to combat the effects of poverty and to build bridges between the Indian and non-Indiana worlds in Montana."