Mentor Artist Fellowship Training Goes Virtual

Three years ago, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) awarded the first Mentor Artist Fellowships. Since then, thirty-one Native artists and culture bearers have received the award to foster emerging artists through mentorship. The fifteen-month program improves creative development, artists rigor, and intergenerational transference of Native artistic knowledge and cultural practices.

In years past, NACF hosted in-person training orientations for fellows and their apprentices to connect and collaborate, but this Spring, we had to pivot our delivery of services due to the COVID-19 crisis. We adapted to a virtual platform after canceling our in-person training—initially planned for March 2020 in partnership with the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California.

The virtual 2020 NACF Mentor training, facilitated by Director of Programs, Francene Blythe (Diné/Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota/Eastern Band Cherokee), included presentations by NACF staff on topics such as mentoring practices, lesson planning, budgeting, social-media engagement, and grant reporting. Guest presenter, filmmaker Cedar Sherbert (Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel), offered the group an introduction on artwork documentation. Additionally, Mentor Artists gave short presentations on their artistic and cultural work and shared their fellowship goals and project plans.

Despite the challenges and limitations of conducting the training virtually, the Mentor Artist Fellows and apprentices expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to learn, connect, and share their work. “I’m grateful for the technology that allowed most of us to connect and to be able to virtually meet everyone! The training session topics were incredibly helpful and provided valuable guidance for envisioning the future success of projects,” said apprentice Liandra Skenandore (Citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; also Prairie Band Potawatomi, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and Mvskoke Creek Nation).

NACF would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the artists, presenters, vendors, and partners who helped to develop and participated in the 2020 NACF Mentor Training. We give special thanks to our program partner for the in-person training, the Autry Museum of the American West, for their generosity and commitment to the NACF mentor program.

Jackie Bread (Blackfeet)
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Nani Chacon, Diné
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
April Stone, Ojibwe
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Gerald Clarke, Cahuilla
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
TahNibaa Naataanii (Navajo)
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Joe Feddersen, Colville
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Brenda Mallory, Cherokee
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Ral Takook Christman, Kumeyaay
2020 Mentor Aritst Fellow
Earl Atchak, Cup'ik Eskimo
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow
Nathan Jackson, Tlingit
2020 Mentor Artist Fellow


I felt the introduction of each mentor and their presentation on their art and career and their project were very valuable. Hearing what others were wanting to accomplish within their communities helps me to understand the need for my project in my own community.

― Cliff Fragua (Jemez Pueblo), 2020 Mentor Artist Fellow