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Tahnee RobinsonTahnee Rose Robinson is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. She is also Eastern Shoshone, Pawnee, and Sioux. Born Feb. 2, 1988, and raised on the Wind River Reservation near Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Tahnee was graduated from Lander Valley HIgh School where she was an All-State basketball star for the Lady Tigers. She will be pursuing a career in communications.
Jana MashoneeJana Mashonee is a singer, songwriter, actress, author and philanthropist. She is Lumbee and Tuscarora, from Robeson County, North Carolina.
Exploring her cultural roots, Jana released American Indian Story, a brilliant concept album that garnered her a second GRAMMY nomination. The video for the single, The Enlightened Time, won awards at major film festivals around the world as well as a NAMMY for Best Short Form Music Video.
Maxine MatilpiMaxine Matilpi (b. 1956) was born in Alert Bay. She spent her early life in her home village of Kalugwis, located in the very center of Kwakwaka'wakw territory. There she learned her first language, Kwakwala, and was formally trained and educated in many aspects of traditional culture.
As a child, Maxine was encouraged to assist her mother, Jesse Matilpi (Wadidi), and other elders with making blankets and other regalia projects. Her first job was to sort buttons by size, she later graduated to more complex tasks such as cutting the appliqué designs and border trim from red cloth. In 1985, she completed her first button blanket without assistance and since then she has created nearly 100 ceremonial items in fabric which include button blankets, dance aprons, vest and tunics.
In 1995, Maxine completed a suite of blankets, aprons and tunics to be worn by family members at a memorial potlatch. Most of the objects displayed in this exhibit were used in ceremony. The regalia is a tribute to an accomplished artist who has dedicated her talent to her people in order that their traditional culture remains vibrant and strong.
Avis Nalaga O'BrienAvis Nalaga O’Brien, a Haida/Kwakwakw’wakw artist, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia. She belongs to the Kaa’was Staa’stas Eagle Clan from Kiusta Village in Haida Gwaii and the Geegilgum Clam of the Likwiolk people of Cape Mudge. Nalaga’s introduction to the treasures of the Northwest Coast started when she learned to weave from her older sister, Meghann O’Brien. This was the beginning of her journey to where she is now, embracing the richness of her cultural heritage and creating jewelry and artwork that reflects the beauty of Northwest Coast Native design.
Nalaga is a carver, weaver, painter, designer and jeweler. She started her company, Nalaga Designs in 2013 as a way to share the cultural knowledge and elegance of cedar bark weaving with the world. Cedar bark weaving has been her connection to the rich legacy of the Haida and Kwakwakw’wakw, and has also been a doorway for her to pursue other art forms. Nalaga Designs offers a unique array of cedar bark weavings, two dimensional designs, limited edition prints, trade bead jewelry, clothing and accessories.
Roxanne SwentzellRoxanne Swentzell (born 1962, Taos, New Mexico) is a renowned Santa Clara Pueblo ceramic sculptor. Swentzell is known for her rounded figures of indigenous people, primarily women. Her mother, Rina Swentzell is a noted Native Americana artist, author and scholar.
Swentzell’s clay sculptures have moved and delighted audiences around the world. Her artistic endeavors have won Swentzell numerous awards since her early twenties.
LeAnne HoweLeAnne Howe, an enrolled Citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has an extensive publications list that includes fiction, poetry, screenplays, creative non-fiction, plays and scholarly articles. She is a faculty member in the creative writing program, a professor of English and American Indian Studies, and an affiliated faculty member in the Theatre Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Bethany YellowtailThe fashion industry. It is a fast-paced world with complex inner workings that few of us get to witness, and even fewer of us get to shape it. Who decides the latest trends? Who creates the garments that show up on clothing racks in malls and department stores? Who are the faces behind the labels?
Whoever these "taste-makers" may be, one thing is certain: Few Native Americans have played a major role in the international fashion industry, especially considering the recent Tribal Trend that places tacky American Indian stereotypes at its core (and next to zero profits go back to Native artists or communities who supposedly "inspire" the trend).
But one young Native fashion designer hopes to change all that.
Bethany Yellowtail is a proud member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes, and she recently accepted a new position at a major fashion company, Kellwood, whose clothing fills the racks at department stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Dillards, and Macy’s. Yellowtail was hired as the first patternmaker with the Baby Phat division on the design team. Most of us are familiar with this urban-inspired women's fashion line that uses a sleek cat as the brand logo -- and now they’ve got a young, hip, hardworking, creative Native to add to their team.
Jamie Okuma Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock) began working with beads as a child creating her own dance regalia for powwows near her home, on the La Jolla Luiseño Reservation.
In high school, Okuma made her first miniature jingle dress, which she placed on a doll figure, and thus, the Jamie Okuma we know today emerged.
Historical accuracy, exemplary workmanship, and keen attention to detail are the hallmarks of her dolls, which are also frequently referred to as ‘soft sculptures’ since the term ‘doll’ seems to diminish the aesthetic range of these creations.
Terminology aside, the magnificent small wonders that she creates replicate life in miniature.
Generally taking up to four months to complete a figure, Okuma focuses on the elaborate clothing and accessories that were the height of Native fashion in the late 19th and early 20th-century Plains and Plateau region. Each detail is in perfect miniature, from the tiny beaded bag to the sewn brass sequins.
A work by Okuma is much more than a traditional craft, but a piece of fine art for discriminating collectors.
Brooke "Medicine Eagle" EdwardsBrooke "Medicine Eagle" Edwards (born 1943) is an American author, singer/songwriter and teacher, specializing in her interpretations of Native American religions. She frequently teaches workshops at New Age and other events.
Edwards was born and raised near a Crow reservation in Montana. She studied at the University of Denver obtaining a BA degree in psychology and mathematics. She earned an MA in counseling psychology from the University of Denver. She describes herself as "of Sioux and Nez Perce ancestry" . She is believed to be the "great, great grand-niece of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce" and studied with Stands Near The Fire, a Northern Cheyenne elder.
Debra Magpie EarlingEarling, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, published her award-winning Perma Red in 2002. The novel recounts the hardships suffered by Louise White Elk, a tale based on the true-life story of Earling’s aunt. Twenty years in the writing, Perma Red tells “a story that has burdened my family for years,” says Earling.
In describing the difficulty of getting the book written, which included a fire that destroyed her first 800-page draft, and getting it published, which included a decision to revise the ending because publishers would not accept a novel in which the protagonist dies—the real Aunt Louise died at 23 of exposure after a car accident—Earling says, “If you have a story that you need to tell and you want it out in the world, there’s some tenacious spirit that we [writers] all have.”
Kathy Whitman-Elk WomanKathy Whitman-Elk Woman, comes from the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation, on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota along the Missouri River.
She is a stone and metal sculptor, painter, jeweler and fashion and furniture designer. Recycling materials is her lastest endeavor which she is passionate about. It's also an ancient practice that she feels, needs to be rekindled. "I want to inspire people to reuse, reduce and recycle as well as being proactive in taking care of the sacred Mother Earth." Her creations from recycled aluminum cans, range from jewelry to monumental sculptures.
Elk Woman works hard, sets goals, and has grown into her Indian name. The elk is an animal with great endurance and grace, and among the northern plains tribes, the elk is associated wtih love. Elk Woman's art captures that great healing power of love. People buy her art because it makes them feel good.
Knowledgeable buyers from around the world, collect her work. She has received many prestigious awards and participated in numerous exhibitions. She is also a member of the Indigenous Sculptor Society.
Tina MerdanianTina Merdanian, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is Director of Institutional Relations at Red Cloud Indian School. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an associate’s degree in accounting, both from Oglala Lakota College. Merdanian currently shares her time in the capacity of lead consultant of marketing and development for Native Discovery, a partnership with the development organizations of South Dakota’s three largest reservations -- Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge and Rosebud -- as they work together to stimulate the largely untapped culturally based tourism economy.


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