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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 24, 2004 - Issue 105


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Risling Wins National Indian Art Award


Humboldt State University Service Learning Center's Tutorial Coordinator, Lyn Risling, has been awarded one of five national Community Spirit Awards from the First People's Fund.

Every year the Fund, based in Rapid City, South Dakota, awards five American Indian artists from throughout the United States for their commitment to sustaining the artistic and cultural traditions in their communities. Risling, a Yurok, Karuk and Hupa Indian from McKinleyville, was honored for her ceremonial regalia and painting.

The 2004 recipients each received $5,000 to help them practice their art. They were honored at a ceremony at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota on December 4, 2003. "I was overwhelmed, and very honored, to receive this award," Risling said. "It was a wonderful and very humbling experience to be standing among the other recipients, who are outstanding, talented people and well-respected elders, who have given so much back to their communities."

The First People's Fund first established the award in 1999 to recognize artists who selflessly teach their art to others. The artists are first nominated by members of their communities and then an independent panel of American Indian reviewers selects those that most exemplify the idea of community spirit. Recipients are not selected based on a long resume of art shows, exhibitions and awards, but on their mentoring and teaching efforts.

"We believe that artists play an important role in sustaining Indian communities," said Lori Pourier, executive director of the First People's Fund. "Through their artistic creations, they help the people to know who they are, where they come from and where they are going. Whether these artists are producing items for ceremonial, decorative or utilitarian use, they are carrying on the spirituality, life ways, histories and traditions of their tribes. The First People's Fund is honored to be able to recognize these talented people who are living examples of generosity, responsibility and strength."

"My work reflects my culture in many ways," Risling added. "The regalia is for our ceremonies, such as the Ihuk, our Karuk girls' puberty ceremony. We have been able to revive it recently, after it disappeared about 130 years ago. I enjoy teaching girls and young women songs, regalia-making and about our ceremonies and culture. Some of my paintings illustrate our traditional tribal stories and other aspects of our culture."

Learn more about the First People's Fund Awards:
First People's Fund Awards

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