Advancing The National Dialogue On Native Arts and Cultures

We are excited to share with you the recently released video from the Native Arts and Culture: Resilience, Reclamation and Relevance convening co-hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF). The vision for this convening began five years ago when NACF initiated a dialogue with the NEA regarding a need for more collaboration between federal agencies and Native organizations, leaders, artists, and culture bearers. While it took some time for the gathering to come to fruition, we are grateful to have been part of this first-of-its-kind event.

The Native Arts and Culture: Resilience, Reclamation and Relevance convening was held in February 2020 in Washington, D.C. The program—developed in collaboration with Wopila Consulting and an advisory council comprised of Native arts, humanities, and culture leaders from across the United States—highlighted best practices and common challenges in creating, sharing, curating, researching, and resourcing Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian arts, humanities, and cultural heritage.

U.S. Poet Laureate and NACF Board member Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) commenced the convening with inspiring words: “We are here together to carry the creative and thoughtful spirit of the peoples forward, to assist in feeding the imagination, the heart, and the soul of the people. It is only through arts that humans acquire knowledge that connects us to the immense field of meaning, that connects us to each other, to the plant people, and the animal people, to the spirit, and to the earth.”

Presentations throughout the day focused on a range of topics designed to advance national dialogues about Native arts and cultural knowledge. Panel discussions included Native artists, curators, and educators to inform a diverse audience of participants from government agencies and the Native arts field. Each session was designed as a platform to reveal the resilience of Native peoples through the contemporary expression of art, culture, and the humanities.

All of this art-making and storytelling is our act of resistance, our act of resilience. We’ve always been beautiful storytellers, but the expression has changed. For me, the expression is film-making; for you, it’s traditional arts, but the message from Mauna Kea to standing rock, to Hollywood, is the same.

―— Maya Austin (Pascua Yaqui, Blackfeet), California Arts Council

NACF is compiling a forthcoming report to highlight the importance that Native arts and cultures have in the resilience, reclamation, and relevance of Native peoples today as presented at the convening. We want to thank both the NEA and the NEH for their commitment to shifting common misperceptions of Native peoples through culturally relevant programming and for their partnership with NACF.

Lillian Sparks Robinson (Wopila Consulting), Clifford R. Murphy (NEA), Lulani Arquette (NACF), Joy Harjo (NACF Board and U.S. Poet Laureate), Jon Parrish Peede (NEH)


Lulani Arquette (Native Hawaiian)
Susan Feller (Choctaw)
Joy Harjo (Mvskoke)
Carolyn Kuali’i (Native Hawaiian and Mescalero Apache)
Joseph Kunkel (Northern Cheyenne)
Shelly Lowe (Navajo)
Christopher Morgan (Native Hawaiian)
Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota)
Jaclyn Roessel (Navajo)
Nadia Sethi (Alutiiq)
Don Soctomah (Passamaquoddy)
Quita Sullivan (Montaukett/Shinnecock)
Richard “Rick” West (Southern Cheyenne)

Click here for a full list of agenda topics covered during the convening.

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