In addition to being honored
by the NEA Bryan has been asked to perform at the White House
ND Sept. 6, 2016 Dakota flute craftsman and player
Bryan Akipa, Sisseton, South Dakota, will be honored later this
month in Washington, D.C., as a 2016 National Endowment of the Arts
National Heritage Fellow. The fellowships are the nation's highest
honor in the folk and traditional arts.
He is one of nine artists chosen for the National Heritage Fellowship
An awards ceremony will be held Sept. 28 with NEA Chairman Jane
Chu, who recently visited Wahpeton, and members of Congress at the
Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.
Akipa will also perform and be interviewed on stage as part of the
NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert on Friday, Sept. 30. The
concert will be streamed live at arts.gov and be hosted by cultural
heritage advocate Dan Sheehy, recipient of the 2015 NEA National
Akipa grew up on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traveerse
Reservation in South Dakota. He was inspired to learn how to create
wooden flutes after seeing a mallard-head flute made by Lakota artist
Richard Fool Bull. He spent many hours studying and drawing the
instrument, to figure out how it was made.
He then reached out to tribal elders who knew the flute tradition
and remembered the songs. Today he both makes flutes and performs
on them and has won several Native American Music Awards and was
nominated for a Grammy. Akipa is also a traditional dancer, visual
artist and digital media artist.
"For me, the red cedar flute and its aria are my cultural
tradition," he said in a bio on the NEA website, about the
path that brought him to where he is today.
He has carried on the flute tradition by teaching his son, friends
In addition to Akipa, the other 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellows
are Joseph Pierre "Big Chief Monk" Boudreaux, a Mardi
Gras Indian craftsman and musician from New Orleans; Billy McComiskey,
an Irish Button accordionist from Baltimore; Artemio Posadas, a
Master Huastecan Son (Mexican Musical Tradition) musician and advocate,
from San Jose, California; Clarissa Rizal, a Tlingit Ceremonial
Regalia maker from Juneau, Alaska; Theresa Secord, a Penobscot Nation
ash/sweetgrass basketmaker from Waterville, Maine; Bounxeung Synanonh,
a Loatian Khaen (free-reed mouth organ) player from Fresno, California;
Michael Vlahovich, a master shipwright from Tacoma, Washington/St.
Michaels, Maryland; and Leona Waddel, a white oak basketmaker from
Free tickets are available for the concert and can be reserved
online at Lisner.gwu.edu.
The 2016 National Heritage Fellows will also be spotlighted
in an episode of public radio's "American Routes" during
Thanksgiving week. The episode will feature performances from the
concert and interviews with the artists.
Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal
agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity
to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop
their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts
agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic
sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates Americas
rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote
equal access to the arts in every community across America. This
year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the
Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and
activities through 2016. Go to arts.gov/50th
to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts &
Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline.