Denver, Colo.—December 10, 2020— Native communities have historically used traditional arts to transfer knowledge about culture, language, mathematics, science, and the land to their communities and upcoming generations. The American Indian College Fund is awarding $900,000 in grants to nine tribal colleges and universities for the two–and-a-half-year program to establish new Native arts programs and to expand existing Native arts programs at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). In addition to transferring traditional arts knowledge to the next generation in Native communities, the grants will also ensure that Native arts are more deeply understood, more widely practiced, and more broadly recognized.
A total of 29 TCUs in the following 10 states are eligible to apply: Alaska, Arizona, Southern California, Montana, Minnesota, New Mexico North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.
According to Bridget Skenadore, Program Officer of Native Arts and Culture at the College Fund, the goals of the program are to establish Native arts programs at the tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to pass on cultural knowledge and artistic skills, ensuring Native communities are fluent in Native arts practice; to create leaders in tribal communities that champion the arts and foster equitable, accessible, safe practice within their communities; to connect Native communities to each other to create cultural corridors; to establish community-based anchor organizations or infrastructure to foster a thriving artistic environment conducive to creative practice; and to ensure community-based artistic and cultural continuity.
This program will continue the work the College Fund began in the Native arts space in 2013 with its three-year Restoration and Preservation of Traditional Native Arts and Knowledge, which was available to 13 TCUs located in the upper-Midwest states and was so successful that it was renewed for an additional three years. The grant laid the groundwork for building out successful Native arts programs by enhancing the capacity of TCUs through the development of new core academic classes and more structured community-based traditional Native arts programs, such as bow-making, quill work, and moccasin-making. The program also built capacity at TCUs for intergenerational transfer of Native artistic and cultural practices to tribal community members and students through funding for master artist, apprentice, and artist-in-residency programs.
Finally, the College Fund awarded seven TCUs with $3,000 Distance Learning grants to support transition from in-person classes and community events to an online format during the pandemic. Funding trainings, consulting services, publications, social media, printers, website subscription upgrades and/or other related items that support this area. Funding cannot be used for the purchase of technology such as laptops, tablets, or chrome books. Grants were awarded to Blackfeet Community College, College of Menominee Nation, Diné College, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, Northwest Indian College, and Salish Kootenai College.
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “The missions of the TCUs are rooted in indigenous ways of knowing and our support of arts programming helps TCUs fulfill that mission. We believe access to indigenous art is one of our inherent rights, as that access helps build community wellbeing and strengthens tribal identities. We are excited to partner with our TCUs and foster their innovative approaches to the intergenerational transfer of art knowledge and skills.”
About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 31 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $9.25 million in scholarships to American Indian students in 2019-20, with scholarships, program, and community support totaling over $237 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.
Journalists: The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.