In 2018, the Center for Native American Youth launched its first Creative Native call for art submissions throughout Indian Country. Creative Native is an art contest, sponsored and created by CNAY in connection with the the Generation Indigenous Native Youth Network that supports Indigenous artists ages 5-24 years of age and provides an opportunity to receive national recognition, funding for art supplies, and a $200 prize.
CNAY’s executive director Erik Stegman, Carry the Kettle First Nation (Nakoda), told Indian Country Today the submissions and winners from young people in Indian Country was a source of inspiration.
“Creative Native was our first program aimed at engaging artistic Indigenous youth as part of the Generation Indigenous youth network. We were incredibly impressed by the caliber of artists that answered the call, and inspired by what they had to say about Indigenous identity and resilience. This just goes to show the power and strength of the Gen-I movement. When you give Native youth outlets that tap into their talents and passions, they are eager to speak up on behalf of our communities.”
The grand prize winner, Darby Raymond-Overstreet, 24 years old, Diné/Navajo Nation, from Santa Fe, New Mexico will have their artwork featured on the cover of the Center for Native American Youth’s annual State of Native Youth report.
Here are the CNAY winners of each age category.
5-9 Years Old: Lozen, 9 years old, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Yaqui, and Chichemeca, Sacramento, California
“My piece is about mother earth and how we need to help her and remember that we're all special in our own ways and It's going to take all of us to make a better world for the future generations to come.”
10-14 Years Old: Hapan, 10 years old, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe/Dine Nation, Ft. Duchesne, Utah
“To be Generation Indigenous means to be born strong. You are born worthy. Indigenous is small, compared to the feeling and the connections that come with being born Indigenous. We are a sacred part of the sacred hoop my family talks about. We are protectors, we are providers, we are our culture and our language. We are courageous. We are resilient. My drawing represents all life and life, no matter the form, is sacred and has a purpose. I hope you like it!”
15-19 Years Old: Louisa, 15 years old, Muscogee Creek, Okemah, Oklahoma
“My art piece is called Hesaketv Encehvlletv (Struggle to breath/survive). The late Wilbur Chebon Gouge once made a speech called "The Struggle to Survive" and it is about the strength of the Muscogee (Creek) woman. Today, being a young Creek woman, I believe in being strong and understanding where we come from is what Generation Indigenous is. Our women are leaders, mothers, sisters, artists, soldiers, and keepers of traditions. My submission is a traditional ribbon dress that I sewed and painted. The red and yellow represent the fire and strength of our women. Being proud of your culture is survival!”
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
20-24 Years Old: Darby Raymond-Overstreet, 24 years old, Diné/Navajo Nation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
“This piece is a portrait of my brother who, to me, embodies the hope and strength that Generation Indigenous represents. I created his portrait with 3 patterns, embodying different characteristics of Gen-I. The leftmost is a vibrant and energetic saddle blanket design representing the initiative and persistent energy that Gen-I must uplift its communities. The middle is a traditional banded design, representing the respect, and thoughtfulness that Gen-I possesses by being grounded in their elders' teachings. The rightmost design is a storm-pattern design representing the leadership and dedication that Gen-I will continue to provide to their communities.”
In addition to having her work featured on the cover of CNAY's annual report, Darby will be flown to Washington, DC to join CNAY for our report release event in November. There, Darby will be acknowledged as an honored guest and serve as a youth panelist in a dialogue about Native youth priorities.
Contest submissions from other artists will be featured throughout this year's CNAY report. CNAY will also be sharing an online digital art gallery, which will be hosted on their website and feature all submissions to this year’s contest.
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling