Native Artists


It is since the dawn of time that we’ve craved our own understanding. For as long as there have been people there has been art. Art is what inspires us. Art helps us grapple with our humanity. It gives us a sense of our smallness in this vast universe. It is through storytelling, writing, drawing, painting, drumming, singing, etc., we express our humanity. Art bellows from our innateness of being.

How has art changed my life?

I began writing during my tumultuous adolescent years. I kept a journal documenting the struggle of being a Native teen growing up on a reservation. I found solace in writing. I was able to rumble about in my mind. I was able to wrestle down demons.

My journal is the place that I explore different ideas. I am able to mimic people that I admire. I am able to be critical of the world around me. I am able to sit in awe. I am able to grapple with pain. I am able to give meaning to what I am feeling.

Writing continues to give me an opportunity to appreciate the grace of God. It is in these quiet moments that I am able to commune with God. I am able to reconnect myself to the broader universe, and to maintain my perspective on this human experience that I am on.

Now, I write for my kids. I write my stories, my family stories, and advice so that one day when I’m not here, they will be able to read my words. I won’t be very far away from them. I remind my kids to use what they can and leave what you don’t need. One day, your children may need it or their children may need it. I write so that they know that I think about them now. I dream of them. I long for them. I want to reach across the chasm of time and space to comfort them. I don’t want them to cower from the light. I want them to be bold. I want them to be brilliant. I want them to be everything I know they are capable of being. It is from here, in this time and this place, that I see them and I dream of them. And, I love them.

If I could wish anything for anyone is to do something creative. At first, you may feel insecure and doubtful about your ability, but continue past it. Try different mediums of art that you want. You will succeed at some and you will fail at others, but keep trying to find what feels right. Do this art for yourself, not anyone. Do it for your own mental health, spiritual health, physical health, which in turn will be overall health. As you ignite this spirit of creativity, you will find yourself appreciating life more fully. You will breathe deeper and the hues of the world will be more brilliant. You will experience life to the fullest.

Remember, your art is for you. If you choose to share it with others, do so with full thoughts that they may not like it, but it is not their job to. There is a vulnerability to showing your work. Take your time doing this.

Be careful who you show your early, unsophisticated work to because they may do more harm than good. This may be unintentionally, but it may be intentional because they are see that you are changing and they want you are unfamiliar to them. You art is for you.

You will find that people who have similar interests will be drawn to you and you will find that you crave being in those places that they are. You will want to understand more fully the depth, breadth, and the fullness of what your art is capable of. Go with it. Look at it with a wide eyed wonder. Take a childish wonder about it. Have fun. Experience joy with it.

Don’t burden your art with the responsibility of being a source of income. That may, or may not, come in time. Build a body of work that you can look back upon. Try different aspects of your art. Mimic others until you feel confident or capable of doing what is distinctly you. This is all about you, not anyone else.

You will find that people will be inspired by what you are doing. Don’t live your life in regret. Use art to be able to unleash the possibility of you. You’ll be amazed and be impressed by what you discover. You are pretty amazing…

It was through writing, art, that I was taught about being alive. It gave me an emotional language. It gave me an imagination. It gave me inspiration.

Art heals. Art if given the effort has the ability to heal and transform.