More than 30 Native-driven and Native-inclusive projects and organizations are among the $34 million in grants awarded last week by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The funding awards are part of the first of two major annual grant announcements from the NEA to finance the arts and humanities across the United States. Grants are awarded in four categories: Research Awards, Literature Fellowships, Grants for Art Project and the Challenge America grants, which are designated for underserved communities. Funds will be awarded to 1,569 organizations, individuals and communities across the United States.

“Together, these grants show the NEA’s support nationwide for strengthening our arts and cultural ecosystems, providing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contributing to the health of our communities and our economy,” NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD., said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to explore these projects and the ways they help provide inspiration, understanding, and opportunities for us to live more artful lives.”

Among the 34 awards designated to Native-driven or Native-inclusive projects and organizations include:

Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Juneau, Alaska: $60,000 

Funding will support the multidisciplinary Rock Aak'w Festival, a weekend-long festival presented by the council in partnership with the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The festival will showcase and celebrate the shared experiences of the performing arts of Indigenous people, including music, dance, and storytelling artists, and will include workshops and masterclasses to instruct teachers on bringing Indigenous cultures into their classrooms. 

Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT: $30,000

The grant award will support artist-led workshops focused on Native American ceramic practices. Additional Project Description: Workshops by artists such as Cannupa Hanska Luger and Raven Halfmoon will expand participants' knowledge regarding the impact of Indigenous people in the ceramic arts. Participants, including tribal youth and artists, will create works informed and inspired by presentations addressing Native American ceramics. 

Grand Canyon Chamber Music Festival , New York, NY: $30,000

The grant will support the Native American Composer Apprentice Project in which students will study one-on-one with a Native American composer-in-residence, learning music composition techniques, music theory, and orchestration. Students will create original compositions, and professional musicians will record and perform the compositions at venues such as the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Programming will be offered online as necessary.

Indigenous Performance Productions, Olympia, WA: $15,000

Funding will support "The Aunties," a storytelling project honoring elder Native women. Additional Project Description: "The Aunties" honors the role of Native women storytellers as the keepers of community. Based on interviews and stories with Native elders, a series of films will be produced to preserve oral storytelling traditions and feature illustrations by artist Keiko Fitzgerald. In addition, a series of live storytelling events featuring elder Native women will take place in the homelands of the Squaxin Island and Nisqually tribes (in the Olympia, Washington, area) and the homelands of Crow, Cheyenne, and Lakota tribes in Spearfish, South Dakota. 

In April 2021, the NEA announced a plan to launch a Tribal Consultation Policy in keeping with the January 2021 Executive Order for federal agencies to establish and maintain regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials in developing policies with tribal implications.

The endowment held its first in-person tribal consultation session on Oct. 26, 2022. Tribal leaders provided NEA feedback on grant administration processes, reporting requirements, and grant eligibility standards.

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