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One of our favorite ways to support and uplift our Native artist community is through our Inspired Natives™ Awards. Each year, we award funding to several of the many deserving emerging Indigenous artists who are pushing the boundaries in the world of arts and arts entrepreneurship. The goal of this award is to assist emerging Native artists as they develop their business infrastructure so they are set up for success in the business marketplace.
Started in 2017, our Inspired Natives™ Awards has been presented in partnership with The Evergreen State College Longhouse. Since our 2019 Defend Wool Blanket collaboration, we have expanded the partnership to include NDN Collective as well. The awards are made possible through the sale of our wool blankets: each year, 5% of our blanket sales goes toward the Inspired Natives™ Award. Because of your immense support this year—buying Inspired Native, not "Native-inspired"—we were able to double the amount awarded.
This year we are pleased to announce we were able to award four talented and community-focused Indigenous artists in collaboration with The Longhouse and NDN Collective. Please join us in congratulating these artists in the comments and read a bit about each of them below. We are honored to select Jeff Barehand (Gila River Indian Community, Navajo), Cecilia Castro (Tribu Lipan Apache en Nogales Sonora / Lipan Apache Tribe of Mexico), Taylor Wily Krise (Squaxin Island Tribe, Samoan), and Chad Martin (Kanaka Maoli).
Jeff Barehand (Gila River Indian Community, Navajo)
Jeff at Eighth Generation's new headquarters in December, 2021
If you have watched any of Eighth Generation’s videos, chances are you have seen the work of Jeff Barehand. Through his video production business, Sky Bear Media, Jeff and his team create compelling video storytelling content, working on all aspects of video projects, including scripting, directing, filming, acting, directing, and screening.
Not only does Jeff bring important stories to life through the medium of film, he encourages Native youth to take center stage through his volunteer work as Board Vice President of Red Eagle Soaring, a Native youth theatre based in Seattle. Red Eagle Soaring (RES), seeks to “empower American Indian and Alaska Native youth to express themselves with confidence and clarity through traditional and contemporary performing arts.”
An actor himself, Jeff is a founding member and current Board President of the nonprofit Olympia Film Collective, a 2014 Native Lab Sundance Film Fellow, a 2018 selectee of Washington Filmworks’ and SIFF’s Fly Filmmaking Challenge, and more. Jeff’s work to forefront Native excellence on screen as well as his dedication to uplifting Native youth in theater arts are truly exemplary.
Cecilia Castro (Lipan Apache Tribe of Mexico)
Cecilia is a writer and the owner of Cafebreria, a combination coffee shop and library. She is a strong advocate for both the importance of reading and for her Tribal nation.
“Reading is key in the educational, personal, and emotional development of people,” says Cecilia. “Reading is not only a way of learning, but also of entertaining ourselves and getting to know the world in a different way. . . . Telling our stories is important for our development, identity, personality, and the rescue of our culture and traditions.”
Raising awareness about her Apache culture through her writing is crucial. Joel Cabral, Cecilia’s husband and the Lipan Apache Tribe’s chairman, says “A lot of people in Mexico don’t even think the Apache were real. They said it’s a legend, a myth, something made up for the movies.” With that widespread misunderstanding, sharing the living, breathing reality of her culture with a global audience is critical.
“My intention is to involve the reader in a subtle way so that they know, know or understand why it is so important for the Lipan Apache Tribe or any Indigenous movement to defend the beauty and richness of our traditions,” says Celia.
Taylor Wily Krise (Squaxin Island Tribe, Samoan)
Taylor holding a drum he painted
Carver, painter, tattooist, and digital artist, Taylor Wily Krise excels in blending traditional designs from his cultural heritage with modern art forms.
A look through his Instagram account shows an incredible amount of carving skill for such a young artist. “Other carvers have remarked about his design capabilities as well,” says Laura VerMeulen, Evergreen Longhouse Managing Director. “His artwork is really amazing and he’s caught the attention of major carvers who see tons of potential in his work.”
In addition to his traditional work like carving and drum painting, Taylor works in the digital realm. He merges classic Coast Salish designs with new colorways and modern technology in digital illustrations that feel wholly unique.
The Squaxin Island Tribe have lived on the Salish Sea for time immemorial and are also known as The People of the Water, so it’s no surprise that when he’s not making art, Taylor is often found fishing and hunting. A father, he coaches Native youth in various sports throughout the year as well.
Taylor’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tk_salish/
Chad Martin (Kanaka Maoli)
Chad in Hawai'i and some of Chad's digital work
With their original songs and fun, family-friendly animations, Chad and his wife, Lisa, teach basic Hawaiian Language to a global audience through their Makaʻiwa Keiki YouTube Channel.
In addition to sharing his culture’s language, Chad has a “passion for Pacific Islander history, mythology, and culture,” which he shares through their business Makaʻiwa Incorporated. With Chad’s graphic design skills and Lisa’s original songwriting talent, Maka’iwa is currently working on an animated short that “honors the once abundant freshwater springs and place names of the southeast coast of O’ahu island.”
While Maka’iwa began as a graphic design business, their shift to focusing on selling authentic Hawaiian vector art, original works, and producing videos has allowed Chad to share his Indigenous Hawaiian culture with a global audience.
Congratulations to our Inspired Natives™ Award winners! We are so proud of our community, and a huge thank you to our partners at NDN Collective and the Evergreen Longhouse!