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On June 4, Blackfoot artist and Inspired Natives™ contributor John Pepion was airlifted over 100 miles from the Blackfeet Indian Community to Kalispel Regional Medical Center for emergency surgery.
There, it was discovered John had sepsis and gangrene in his foot—along with additional serious complications due to diabetes. Emergency, life-saving measures included the amputation of a toe in the effort to save John’s foot—and his life. Since, John spent three full weeks under constant care on the surgical floor before being transferred to a long-term care facility. He must remain there for the foreseeable future as he heals. If all goes well, John will be able to keep his foot.
Jonn with his "Lightning Horse Wool Blanket"
This nightmare is just the beginning of what will be a very long and difficult recovery process—a period that has already had a catastrophic impact on John’s finances. This renowned artist and educator’s career was just reaching a new level of impact and accolade. Due to this health crisis, John was forced to cancel many speaking engagements, panel discussions, art shows, and other activities through which he makes his living. John is also a brilliant public arts educator and is unable to teach during this time. While hospitalized and during recovery, John is unable to make money with speaker fees and honorariums, he is unable to produce and install art shows, and is unable to ship any of the art purchased on his website.
John needs the help of his community—our community. The earliest he could possibly return to his job as an arts educator is October. In the meantime, bills must still be paid—not to mention the vast medical bills this life-saving surgery is sure to incur which will need to be paid upon his release. Louie Gong, CEO of Eighth Generation and John’s longtime friend, has started a Go Fund Me to help John during this time. Please make a donation today in support of this incredible Native artist.
Artist Bio: John Isaiah Pepion
John Isaiah Pepion is a Plains Indian Graphic artist from the Piikani Band of the Blackfoot Confederacy. He is based out of the Blackfeet reservation in north-central Montana, where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains. John is best known for his ledger art, an art tradition that developed in Plains tribes as the buffalo hide they traditionally used for painting became scarce, and they were forced to adapt to making artwork on the ledger paper from accounting books. He comes from a family of artists, and ledger art has been in his family for hundreds of years.
"Snaggin' Blanket" by John Pepion