Grantee: Ronald Paquin
Ronald Paquin is an artist whose mastery of a number of Indigenous art practices is well-known. Michigan State University has awarded him a Master Artist Grant nine times and the Ziibiwing Cultural Center of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe commissioned him to create over 70 items for the collection. His work has been recognized by two different artist awards from the First People’s Fund.
Perhaps his most transcendent work is in the creation of birch bark canoes. When he was awarded a 2013 NACF Artist Fellowship in Traditional Arts, he had made more than 35 canoes. “Canoes are the most fascinating thing Indians ever made – they were transportation, you could portage and sleep under a canoe, it got you to your hunting grounds, fishing grounds and even to where you lived if you moved seasonally,” said Paquin.
He believes it is his responsibility to teach others to make canoes and has taught children, adults, apprentices and his grandchildren this Chippewa art. “I am honored to have been able to build canoes and teach others,” said Paquin. “I humbly believe that with every student I teach, I also learn something from them and from the woods where I gather my materials.”
The support of an NACF Artist Fellowship in Traditional Arts helped Paquin build an Ojibwe cedar hut in Newberry, Mich., and demonstrate birch bark canoemaking at the 2013 Inland Seas Education Association Classic Boat Show.
In his fellowship year, he led workshops at the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians Wild Rice Gathering and prepared materials for seven more workshops. Paquin was able to participate in the St. Ignace Rendezvous at the Straits Pow Wow, the Mackinaw Sampler and other market opportunities. Overall, Paquin connected over 650 audience members with Chippewa arts and culture.
“The award from NACF was critical to my ability to gather and teach. My greatest expense is gasoline and travel to the Upper Peninsula to gather birch and cedar bark, sweetgrass and spruce root,” said Paquin. “The support allowed me to contact all the tribes in Michigan to make them aware of the workshops, demonstrations and other educational opportunities. I’d like to express my sincerest appreciation to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation for honoring me with this award. I truly am grateful to those who fund the award, as well as those who selected me as a recipient.”