Mitakuye Oyasin – in the Dakota language, this translates to All My Relations. This phrase, while short, exemplifies a whole way of being and existing with our relatives, both living and nonliving. Mitakuye Oyasin encompasses many types of ways for caring for ourselves, our relatives, communities, and surrounding environmental ecosystems.
All My Relations offers $1000 in unrestricted funds to 10 artists who have exemplified the Dakota translation of Mitakuye Oyasin: All My Relations. This award recognizes the roles artists serve to create a vision for a better future for our future generations.
Artists nominated show dedication and commitment to their artistic practice, represent excellence in their contributions to the arts community and embody the values of Mitakuye Oyasin in how they carry themselves as American Indian people. This funding is provided to support the artist’s creative practice and well-being and allows artists the autonomy to determine what they need to thrive creatively, professionally, and personally.
All My Relations Arts 2022 Mitakuye Oyasin awardees:
Nedahness Rose Greene: Nedahness works tirelessly to make ends meet while pursuing her passion of photography. Capturing moments at events, portrait sessions and creative shoots that captivate us all. Photographing the young and the old and all walks of life and the beauty that surrounds her in Leech Lake MN. She captures all relatives, hummingbirds, eagles, porcupines and all different ways of life including maple sugar camps, ricing and more. Through her lens we see the beauty of it all and we cannot look away. She inspires me with her beautiful images and her passion to keep doing what she loves despite the struggles many don’t see. She is a single mother, with twin boys at home who often accompany her when not in school. The work and struggle we don’t see, all the behind the scenes, time spent working on perfecting her photos. I’m in awe of her talents and ability as well as her passion and drive to reach her goals and dreams of representing her cultures and ways of life. -Rayshele Kamke
Courtney Cochran: Courtney is the artist who came immediately to mind as a person working tirelessly and JOYFULLY to build and support a broad range of communities. Her work with the Native Youth Council through Little Earth is an important example of her commitment and love of young people and the creative process. Listening to her talk about how she works with young people teaches me so much about love. She says that whenever she does a project with young folks, before the project officially begins she just hangs out with them and makes things: beading, painting, or whatever they are interested in. She listens and they get to know each other. I have worked with Courtney over the past few years as a member of the Northern Spark Artist Council and from those conversations I can attest that Courtney is always thinking of others’ needs and how to accommodate them to make an experience as accessible as possible. From suggesting childcare at artist meetings to always including elders in an outreach process, I have learned that she automatically thinks about how to include everyone in a community. Lastly, her 1492 project on Franklin Ave exemplifies the ways her personal art practice is communal. Another artist may have completed that work alone or with assistants, but Courtney designed a process by which the people directly engaged in the encampment were the artists of the piece. She embodies true community power! -Sarah Peters
Paul Wenell Jr.: Paul Wenell Jr., otherwise known as Tall Paul, wrote, recorded and released a semi-biographical music album about legendary Native athlete Jim Thorpe titled, “The Story of Jim Thorpe.” Thorpe was a major inspiration for Wenell as a Native youth athlete because he won Olympic gold and got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His story highlights the importance of positive representation for Native youth. Paul wanted to tell his story so more Native people can be educated about our great abilities and accomplishments as Native people, understanding that we’re no less capable than any other race or ethnicity. Paul also created a bi-lingual Ojibwe and English hip-hop song titled “Prayers in a Song” for his senior project at the University of Minnesota in an effort to help revitalize the Ojibwe language and it’s since been used in classrooms all over the world. In his personal life, Paul focuses on being a good father to his kids, a good partner to his significant other, and a source of empowerment for the Native communities. Paul visits all over Turtle Island when performing and giving speaking engagements and workshops.
Zack Red Bear: Zack Red Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota) is one of the few male old style grass dancers teaching dance to our boys/ young men in the Twin Cities. He is also a singer and has been assisting in leading a Drum and Dance Troupe (Spirit Boy) with a focus on teaching youth our ways. He teaches dance for the CLAN program at the Indian Center, as well as several Indian Education programs across the metro and at Ain Dah Yung Center in Saint Paul. He is consistently showing up with good medicine and a huge heart for our next generations, our community and carrying on his grandfather Johnny Smith’s teachings, exemplifying Mitakuye Oyasin. -Holly (Miskitoos) Henning
Destiny Big Crow: “I believe that Destiny lives through an understanding of Mitakuye Oyasin by maintaining a path of purpose and beauty with respect to all creation, Lakota ceremony, relatives, future generations, and social justice. Destiny walks with gentle, unshakeable commitment and a spirit of joy for culture which can be felt through appreciating both her gifts of art and the time she puts into the process of art-making itself”. -John Ryan
Agnes Woodward Yellow Bear: “Agnes Marie Yellow Bear formally Woodward is a mother of 5 children and also taking in 2 other nieces and nephews, works full time with the 477 program that helps families in need. I feel that Agnes is deserving of this award, because of the work her family and herself have been doing for decades with the MMIW movement and continuing to put families first. Agnes also has dedicated her time to teach the younger generation to sew and make different projects. The person Agnes is not only inspires me but she inspires so many other people to be better she is kind, intelligent, and fierce. She stands in her truth unapologetically. Agnes continues to work with families of the MMIWG2s movement and including families first.” – Whirlwind Bull Yellow Bear
Doris Stands: My role in exemplifying the concept of Mitakuye Oyasin is in sharing my visions of art, and expressing myself with art, it’s a huge part of who I am. Damakota! It’s an honor to share and not keep these for myself. Art is so beautiful, it’s a gift that we all have. We should share it with our relatives.
Falcon Gott: Falcon Gott created a feature length documentary that follows the traveling realities of JR Fox, a Medicine Person and Spiritual Leader. This documentary is made for Jr Fox’s family, friends, community, and relatives and is free and accessible to anyone.
Racquel Banaszak: As an Anishinaabe artist, Racquel hopes her artwork can bring a sense of joy and light to Indigenous people. Much of Racquel’s work is an ode to the strength of the ancestors from the grandparents to the mothers and aunties to the uncles and brothers and to all the children whose continuing love and courage paved the way for our existence.
Afton Delgado: Art builds community as it shares stories of who we are and captures moments. When art is transmitted through community by being a good relative, we are revitalizing traditional art forms. It also allows us to bring our stories to the forefront in the present.
Any Midwest American Indian artist doing any kind of art form is eligible. Yes, you can nominate yourself.
Note: This is a one-time funding opportunity, unrestricted and there are no reporting requirements tied to these funds.
Individuals awarded in past years are ineligible to apply for this award cycle.
The selection of artists will be determined by a jury of members within the Native American Community Development Institute staff, board, and All My Relations Arts advisory committee.
Nominations are currently closed.