The following is an introduction to the 2016 Annual Report, by Native Arts and Cultures Foundation President & CEO Lulani Arquette.
The 21st century is calling for a more equitable humane existence, greater sharing of resources, and a deeper appreciation of cultural differences. Nearly six million indigenous citizens live in the United States, whose ancestors resided for centuries in original homelands within the continental United States, Hawai`i, and Alaska. At NACF, we work with artists and organizations to support cultural revival, foster creativity and economic opportunity, and address social progress, thereby inspiring hope and collective responsibility within Native communities and across the nation.
In this time of profound cultural upheaval, there are many people who are concerned about the direction of our nation. Native nations and other groups who have experienced injustice believe that many of the freedoms and advances that have been made historically are at risk. Native peoples and communities are motivated by values that have been passed down for generations, inspiring the wellspring of creativity and action that comes forth. There is consensus that amidst transition and upheaval in uncertain times, it is even more important to stay rooted to these values.
At NACF, the inseparable values of courage and compassion continue to shape our work. We can spread compassion and build empathy through arts and cultures, while at the same time standing strong for what we believe. It takes courage to uphold our values, and do the right thing. In Hawai`i, we speak of the value of “pono”. Being pono means being fair and just, living in a righteous manner. There is an expectation that if there is injustice, it must be corrected or overcome.
Having compassion and building empathy through the arts helps people connect with one another and learn together. Compassion has a way of cutting through discord and chaos. It’s a very empowering and healing force that, when committed to, yields innumerable benefits. Frontiers of the mind and spirit are expanded. People are encouraged to experience and reflect resulting in new ideas and knowledge. Author, speaker, and social visionary, Duane Elgin, says “compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.”
We believe that NACF has a responsibility to support artists and efforts that are championing Native shared values with courage and compassion. Commitment to cultural equity, and social progress in communities is paramount. We are inspired by all of your voices and stories and grateful for our partners, supporters, and friends who enable us to do our work.
Me Ke Aloha,
Lulani Arquette, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation President & CEO