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We know that the support of our community helped get us where we are today. It's with this in mind that - as a small part of our broader giving - we promised to return 5% of profit from our retail blanket sales to the community in the form of "Inspired Natives Grants".
The nationwide award program that targets emerging Native arts entrepreneurs was launched in September and administered by our friends at the Evergreen Longhouse. And after a rigorous review of an incredible pool of candidates, they selected two stellar artists.
Please join us in congratulating Pi'iali'i Lawson (Hawaiian) and Makade Anakwad (White Earth Nation) on being the first ever Inspired Natives Grant Awardees.
Pi'iali'i Lawson carries on his family's weaving legacy as a practitioner and kumu (teacher) of Ulana Lauhala, a traditional woven art of Hawaii that requires knowledge of everything from cultural protocols and oral traditions, to plant biology and the crafting of tools. When he isn't teaching workshops on lauhala weaving, Pi'iali'i runs a small business specializing in contemporary Hawaiian fashion accessories, creating innovative work that is rooted in cultural foundations.
With help from the funds from Eighth Generation's Inspired Natives Grant, Pi'iali'i plans to take his small business to the next level with the completion of his Signature Koa/Lauhala Collection, new computer software to design marketing materials, revamped packaging and branding, and an updated website. His goal is to build strong, sustainable business infrastructure to be able to successfully transition to being a full-time business-owner. He also plans to continue to build his teaching practice with three culminating art shows and accompanying workshops in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Japan.
Based in Bemidji, Minnesota, Makade Anakwad (Ron Turney) is a teacher and traditional Ojibwe artist who quit his job as a Multimedia Specialist at Leech Lake Tribal College to pursue his artistic career last year. A student of Master-Artist Mel Losh (Leech Lake Nation), he is committed to reclaiming traditional methods of making art with natural materials such as porcupine quills, birch bark, and sweetgrass, while pushing the boundaries of what he can make with them.
With the funds from the Inspired Natives Grant, Makade Anakwad plans to take the next step in his artistic career by re-invigorating his business with an updated e-commerce website, new software for content creation and marketing, raw materials to build up his inventory, and everything he needs to professionally display and transport his work to reach target markets for in-person sales. Makade Anakwad hopes that one day he will be able to start up a Traditional Quillwork Society again so the knowledge of this powerful art form can continue to be passed on.
Makade Anakwad says, "I am honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Eighth Generation Inspired Natives Grant. Over the past couple of years, I have followed their growth and success. I've always admired their products, business model, and their commitment to supporting Native artists. One year ago, I resigned from my old desk job to pursue a new career as a traditional artist and started Black Cloud Studios. Being awarded this grant has validated my career choice and has inspired me to take it to the next level!"
You can view more of Makade Anakwad's work and keep an eye out for the release of his Biboon "Winter" collection here on his website.
We look forward to following the journeys of these Inspired Natives as they utilize this opportunity to build even stronger foundations for their work and communities!