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Black Ash


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I am an enrolled member of my grandmother's tribe, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Chippewa Indians from Michigan. My grandmother is half-Ojibwe and half-Ottawa, and my grandfather is Grand River Ottawa from the Salem Community. The Objiwe, Ottawa, and the Potawatomi tribes make up the Confederation of the Three Fires.

I am very interested in studying and teaching the stories of the oral traditions of the past and our native Algonquin language. I feel it is important for our youth today to learn and pass on the stories and language before it is too late. I try to incorporate the stories in my paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture, to help teach and preserve the culture through my work, and maybe to make someone who was unaware of the Anishnaabe and their culture more aware... that we are still here today.

I think humor is an important part of Native culture, for sometimes if we weren't able to come together and laugh at ourselves, the pain would seem too real. I think laughter and humor are important in the healing process. I want to help teach non-natives about today's Native Americans - the many different tribes and cultures - and to help dispel the Hollywood images and show the many faces of Native people today. I research stories through collections of stories by Native writers such as Basil Johnston and community elders. While I am inspired greatly by woodland artists such as Norval Morriseau and Peter Migwams, I am still exploring new styles and media. An Anishnabe trickster hero, Nanabozo has been an interesting source of stories, teaching humanity -- humility -- survival. We are survivors. And I think we can make a difference in making better days ahead.

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