In 2021 Running Strong for American Indian Youth® launched Dreamstarter® Creative to support Native artists. Artists are cultural protectors, tradition keepers, and valuable contributors to the contemporary American art world as they connect Native traditions with an ever-changing and challenging world. Running Strong is proud to support Native creators who describe and celebrate Indigenous cultures in their work, in whatever form that may be. This year Running Strong has $25,000 dedicated to supporting 10 Native artists’ dreams!
On April 28, Running Strong announced the 2023 cohort of 10 Dreamstarter® Creatives:
Xatimniim Drake (Karuk Tribe)
Xantimniim, who comes from an artistic family in Humboldt, California has always been passionate about art and strives to make her craft into a career by working with local businesses to create logos to promote their missions, complete commissioned works, and selling her art and jewelry. After her mother passed away she found katharsis and healing in creating. For Xantimniim, art is a way to express herself and give a voice to others, and her community.
Kyrie Dunkley (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate)
Kyrie is a seamstress, community organizer, and artist from Sioux Falls, South Dakota who holds a chair on the Powwow Committee for the University of South Dakota Medical Center for Disabilities Oyate Circle and works with schools and the community to provide interactive services aimed at preserving culture and promoting Native visibility. She finds inspiration and hope in the increasing Indigenous representation in media, urban communities, and big business. Through the creation of her clothes and the services she provides, she is helping reinforce language and cultural practices, and indigenize urban spaces.
Hope Gamble (Navajo Nation)
Hope was a member of our 2019 Dreamstarter® cohort of entrepreneurs when she was just 14 years old and used her $10,000 Dreamstarter® grant to create and sell a comic book, turning her craft into a small business. Since then, she has continued to grow as an artist and expand her craft on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona where takes inspiration from the colorful landscapes, the animals that live beside her, and her people and their traditions. Her art allows her to express the love she has for her homeland and hopes to teach others why the land must be protected.
Joe Harjo (Muscogee (Creek) Nation)
Through his work Joe challenges what is considered “Native American” by mainstreams society, confronts the misrepresentation and appreciation of Native culture, and advocates for better representation and visibility of Native identities. His goal is to examine and challenge historical and contemporary issues and policies that impact Native American communities, their land, their stories, and their right to build prosperous futures through photography, installations, and performance art.
Dalton LaBarge (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe)
Dalton is a Kanienke’ha second language speaker from the Tehanakarine Bear Clan Family who volunteers for the Akwesasne Mohawk Freedom School and makes traditional wampum belts for community speakers and teachers. He began apprenticing under expert wampum artist Hasewedonih, in October 2022 and has since completed five historical reproduction belts, and five contemporary belts. For Dalton, his craft provides time for quiet reflection, new perspective, and connection to his ancestors.
Maka Monture (Oneida Indian Nation)
Maka was raised in the small village of Yakutat, Alaska where as a child she spent much of her time in museums and their archives while her mother and her grandparents worked to identify artifacts. She was first inspired by the craftsmanship of Northwest Coast Artifacts; the beadwork, weaving and the Formline style of art. She sees wearable art as a way to increase Native visibility, and visually show the history and traditions of her culture.
Caitlin Newago (Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
Caitlin, of Northwoods, Wisconsin, is a dedicated mother and proud member of the Bear Clan, who are knowledge bearers and healers. She has experience and training in traditional Ojibwe quillwork on birchbark, drawing and painting, mural making, and has most recently enjoyed making digital art and exploring new software. For Caitlin, art allows her to immerse herself in Anishinaabekwe culture, heal from past trauma, and help end the cycles of abuse in her community.
Jazmin Novak (Navajo Nation)
For Jazmin, art is a way to connect with her family, her culture and communicate her thoughts and ideas on how she perceives the world. Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she finds inspiration in the environment that surrounds her, and often uses animals from her homelands as narrative devices in her sculpture work. Jazmin, a sculpture teacher at the Institute of American Indian Arts, hopes to remind viewers or her work of their connection to each other, and the natural world through her work.
Yegunahareeta Printup (Tuscarora)
Yegunahareeta was raised by traditional parents on the reservation, going to ceremonies and is deeply rooted in the culture and teachings of her tribe. Always being interested in creating wearable art, she taught herself to bead at a young age and quickly began selling her earrings. Yegunahareeta, who finds inspiration in her culture, ceremonial longhouse wear, and the custom to honor the Creator by wearing your best, is hopeful to see her community grow as it reclaims their language and ceremonies and pass on her knowledge and love of her culture.
Ashely Yazzie (Navajo Nation)
Ashley was raised on the Navajo Reservation by traditional parents and grandparents and began painting in 4th grade finding inspiration in the joys of children, the beauty of natural landscapes, and traditional Navajo stories. She lives in Durango, Colorado where she attends Fort Lewis College, studying Art with a minor in Native American Studies, and is a dedicated mother to her 1-year-old son and keeping him connected to their Native heritage. Her dream is to connect urban Natives to traditional teachings and culture by creating a series of paintings illustrating creation stories connected to the landscape, sacred sites, and incorporate themes surrounding the Coyote stories.