Kellen Trenal

niimíipuu, Nez Perce and Black

GRANTEE:  Kellen Trenal
NATIVE HERITAGE:  niimíipuu, Nez Perce and Black
AWARD:  2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE:  Traditional Arts
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Instagram

Kellen Trenal (pronounced like “Chanel”) is a visual artist, performer, small business owner, alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, and holistic wellness enthusiast, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Being both Black American and niimíipuu, Nez Perce, Trenal embraces his multiple identities to empower his work in all its manifestations. He shares his (he)artwork through Trenal Original, a traditional-arts based, QBIPOC-owned, small business. Each piece is a custom creation aimed at increasing visibility for historically excluded communities.

Trenal utilizes his wealth of Indigenous knowledge to explore the intersection of tradition and innovation. His works range from hand-crafted accessories and jewelry design, gallery art, traditional Indigenous regalia, modern apparel, to much more.

His work is best understood as a meditation, recording thousands of hours of dedicated time to developing his craft. With the use of modern materials, he continues a great legacy of ancestral traditions passed down through the generations.


For his LIFT project, Trenal will produce a collection of hand-woven, hand-beaded, and hand-sewn accessories, jewelry, and traditional regalia pieces using a mixture of beading techniques and bead sizes to embroider designs onto brain-tanned hides and trade cloth wools. The project will be filmed and a video documentary produced.


With each individual hand-stitched bead, I am actively reclaiming traditional identity. With each digital post I share, I create a more inclusive world for future generations.

—Kellen Trenal (niimíipuu, Nez Perce and Black)