Stephen brings over 30 years of experience in community engagement having served in leadership roles at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, First Alaskans Institute and Pamyua Inc. He is also a musician and a traditional dancer, has produced music and film projects, and is a past NACF Artist Fellow and a recipient of the Rasmuson Foundation’s Artist Fellowship.
He describes himself as a global citizen whose Yup’ik roots guide his leadership and artistic vision. He is Yup’ik Inuit and African-American from the small community of Bethel, Alaska. “Being born Alaska Native we have a responsibility to fight for our traditions and heritage,” says Stephen.
Although his deep appreciation and love for his Yup’ik traditions have been pivotal to his work, Stephen also holds the philosophy that Alaska Native culture is not stagnant. If a culture does not adapt, as we have for thousands of years, it makes it difficult to thrive in its new environment. This understanding has permeated Stephen’s work as an artist and educator and is clearly reflected in his work as a musician with his band Pamyua, which is a fusion of traditional Yup’ik song and dances with contemporary music and sound.
For Stephen, joining NACF as its Senior Arts Manager was a natural and logical next step in his life and career. He believes that his life and work experience have prepared him for this role and is looking forward to engaging with Native artists and communities.
As part of Programs, Stephen will be overseeing NACF’s National Artist Fellowships and part of the Community Inspiration Program. Being a past NACF Artist Fellow himself, he is highly aware of the impact yielding from this kind of support, and is committed to offering continuous support to Native artists and communities.
“I would love to see NACF grow and be known as one of the premier organizations that support indigenous artists in the United States so that when people think of Native artists they think of NACF,” he states.
Stephen can be reached at stephen@nativeartsandcultures.