The First People’s Fund put a call out for nominations for their Community Spirit Award. They asked: “Do you know a Native artist who has dedicated his or her life and work to sustaining cultural traditions within their commuity? first Peoples Fund has opened nominations for the 2017 Community Spirit Awards, and we want to hear from you by tomorrow, July 15th! — “If your life has been touched by a Native American, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian artist who embodies the Indigenous values of generosity, integrity, humility and wisdom, consider nominating them for the Community Spirit Awards,” said Lori Pourier, president of First Peoples Fund. — the Community Spirit Awards, launched in 1999, are national grants for established Native culture bearers who demonstrate substantial contributions to their communities through their careers as artists. Each year, First Peoples Fund seats a national panel to select four to six Community Spirit honorees from tribes across the country.”
So I thought about all the artists that I have known a long, long time, who would fit this bill. I thought about all the artists that I know who are not just talented in what they do, but are passionate about their lives and sharing their work to the extent that they will leave the comforts of their own home and studio for great lengths of time and share with the younger generations, AND they need money!!! My friend of 36 years came to mind: Wayne Price…he fit the bill…this is what I wrote in the nomination:
“For 40+ years, Wayne Price is a Tlingit master carver in silver jewelry yet mainly known for his wood carvings of totem poles, masks, and is one of four men who knows how to carve the traditional dugout Tlingit canoes. For the past 10 years he has been on an aggressive mission to educate the general public, mentor and teach the methods of the nearly-extinct dugouts of the Tlingit. Each canoe takes about 5 to 6 months to complete so these carvings are quite the accomplishment and are designed for ocean-going waves. He has led expeditions in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska with the younger generation of men in their traditional dugouts that they had carved. He teaches how to read the ocean, how to hunt and fish, how to survive on the land, and teaches the spiritual laws and ways of being of our people. In 2007, with no other dance group in Haines, he began a dance troupe called “North Tide” which is also the name of his mentor group of young carvers because he also teaches them the stories, song and dance. Wayne is passionate about his work and his life and terribly passionate about teaching the next generations; he wants his students to live a clean life without drugs and alcohol; he feels that training his students from a young age in the cultural arts and lifeways is the way to deter them from even having a wagon to fall from! With his wife Cherri, he owns and operates the Silver Cloud Art Center which is his 16,000 sq. ft. home where he has conducted retreats in weaving, carving, subsistence food hunting and gathering, and dance troupe practices. The front porch of their house always has a large carving of a totem pole or a dugout canoe in progress with the younger generation at his side either working and/or just listening. Wayne has lived and worked in almost every community in Southeast Alaska and Yukon Territory; his name and character is known far and wide. He is a natural born leader (who he himself will admit he is always still learning).”
We’ll see what happens, Wayne! If you don’t receive this award this time around, then there’s always a next time. Just make sure you remain safe and happy cuz we need you for the long haul…!