Announcing 2017 Mentor Artist Fellowship Awards


April 19, 2017 – Please join the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation staff, board and selection panelists in congratulating the following 12 artists who have been awarded a 2017 Mentor Artist Fellowship! Listed are the awardees in alphabetical order by last name:

Contemporary Visual Arts
Nicholas Galanin, Tlingit/Unangax̂, Alaska. Nicholas Galanin will mentor to transfer aspects of Tlingit metalsmithing and the technique of chasing and repoussé to his apprentice.

Jackson Polys, Tlingit, Alaska. Jackson will work together with an apprentice, investigating both traditional and advanced Tlingit carving techniques and formline design concepts.

Cara Romero, Chemehuevi, New Mexico. Cara Romero is eager to impart her years of photographic study and professional experience through key mentor lessons.

Dyani White Hawk, Sicangu Lakota, Minnesota. Dyani White Hawk plans for a cross-cultural exchange as well as sharing her extensive knowledge about curating and the general business side of art with her apprentice.
Traditional Arts
Lani Hotch, Chilkat Indian Village, Alaska. Lani Hotch will walk her apprentice through the entire process of the design, planning, and preparation to weave and complete a traditional weaving.

Royce Manuel, Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum, Arizona. Royce Manuel will teach his apprentice the cultural and historical significance, and making of fiber art from the agave plant.

Delbert “Smutcoom” Miller, Skokomish, Washington. Delbert Miller wants to pass on traditional knowledge and collaborate with his apprentice to create an art piece in honor of a renowned community elder.

TahNibaa Naataanii, Diné (Navajo), New Mexico. By mentoring her apprentice to weave, TahNibaa Naataanii strives to counter stereotypes that generational weaving is an “old and forgotten art” within the culture.

Wayne “Minogiizhig” Valliere, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Wisconsin. As a respected canoe builder, Valliere knows the holistic complexities of birch, cedar and spruce forest ecosystems well, and will pass this traditional knowledge to his apprentice.

Delina White, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, regalia/apparel, accessory making, Minnesota. Delina White will guide her apprentice to develop an understanding of design, art form and how changing societal factors have influenced traditional apparel and accessories.

Laura Wong-Whitebear, Colville/Sinixt, Washington. Laura Wong-Whitebear wants her apprentice to reach creative potential and see the possible opportunities as a practicing artist and basket weaver.

Shirod Younker, Coquille and Coos, Oregon. Shirod Younker will mentor an apprentice in traditional and contemporary tool making, canoe paddle carving and canoe model making.


This is the first year of the NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship, which was open to Native American and Alaska Native artists in three regions of the United States: the Pacific Northwest, Southwest and Upper Midwest, and in the categories of Traditional and Contemporary Visual arts. More than 100 applications were reviewed by a panel of art peers and professionals.

Beginning in July, the awarded artists will mentor their selected emerging American Indian or Alaska Native artist apprentice for one year. This fellowship requires a joint mentor/apprentice art project at the completion of the one-year mentoring. Next call for submissions for the NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship will be in the fall.

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