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Dreamstarter Creatives Using Art to Make History

            Art, history, and culture are so intertwined that one cannot fully appreciate one realm without knowledge of the others. Art is a vessel to record and tell history, preserve, share, and even critique culture. Because of this, artists are cultural protectors, tradition keepers, storytellers, and activists. Native artists are valuable contributors to the contemporary American art world as they connect Native traditions with an ever-changing and challenging world. In an effort to fight cultural erasure, and protect the important work of Native Artists, Running Strong is proud to continue its support of Native artists through our Dreamstarter Creative program. The class of 2023 is on their way to make history.

            Hope Gamble (Navajo Nation) has a dream to create more awareness and support for land protection efforts and to promote visibility of the struggles the Navajo Nation faces against outsiders abusing their land through a series of paintings. So far, Hope has used her grant to purchase supplies, create new pieces, and travel to events to show and sell her work. Her paintings incorporate the people, animals, and plants that live in the sovereign Navajo Nation while using colors inspired by the natural ancient Southwest landscapes. Already, Hope has displayed her work at the Navajo Nation Museum, ABQ Summer Art Sale, and Pathways Indigenous Festival at the Buffalo Thunder Casino.

            Joe Harjo (The Muscogee (Creek) Nation) has a dream is to examine and challenge historical and contemporary issues and policies that impact Native American communities through a series of photographs and installations. The first phase of Joe’s project, The Indian Removal Act I: American Progress, is the first of a three-part exhibition series that will be displayed across Texas. Joe’s series is named after the Indian Removal Act of 1830, a government policy that was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson that authorized the forceful removal and relocation of Native Americans from their lands East of the Mississippi. This show will be open to the public beginning October 7th, 2023 at the Galveston Art Center. To learn more about the show please visit: and follow Joe Harjo on Instagram:@ndnstagram

            Ashley Yazzie (Navajo Nation) has a dream 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. Ashey is currently attending Fort Lewis College, studying Art with a minor in Native American Studies. Her time in the Indigenous Studies department has given her a new perspective on Native Beliefs and is enjoying reconnecting with her culture and deepening her understanding of Native history. Ashley has begun work on her series of paintings that will include teachings from her own family, as well as the research that she is now undertaking. 

Kyrie Dunkley (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate), owner and operator of Shinin Star Style, has a dream to increase Indigenous representation, visibility, and cultural connection in urban communities through fashion and community events. This past summer Kyrie participated in the All My Relatives Festival in Sioux Falls, SD. This Native arts festival included musical performances from Frank Waln, Jackie Bird, Indigenous, as well as a fierce fashion show, that included designs from Shinin Star Style and 3 other Native designers. The fashion show displayed contemporary clothes, bags, hairstyles, and makeup all by Native Designers and artists. 30 indigenous models from across the U.S. and Canada proudly walked the red carpet showing off the designs. Kyrie hopes to continue to host events that will create space for and celebrate Native culture and identity. To see more pictures from the show, and learn what events you can see Shinin Star Style in next, visit:

Xantimniim Drake (Karuk) has a dream to create connections and promote healing in native communities through art and inspire others to explore their creativity. Xantimniim uses art to connect with her homelands and ease her mind. She has recently begun creating a series of paintings of traditional Karuk homelands and is sharing her journey through social media promoting the healing and calming benefits that creating has to offer. In addition, she in the process of putting together a giveaway to her community, using part of her grant to purchase and distribute art supplies as starter kits for others in her community to begin their own journeys of creating and healing. Follow Xantimniim’s art page on Facebook at

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