NEFA Awards Native Arts grants across New England

$40,000 through 11 grants in latest round of funding

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has awarded $40,000 through two initiatives of its Native Arts program, which supports Native American artists and Native-led nonprofit organizations through grantmaking and network development.

Four artists have received the first round of NEFA’s Native Arts Master Apprenticeship grants, which were launched with lead funding from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Grants of up to $5,000 pair experienced master artists with apprentices for up to one year, establishing focused learning experiences that nurture the continued vitality of Native art forms in New England. “These grants will allow for a deeper artist/mentor relationship,” said Native Arts program manager Dawn Spears (Narragansett/Choctaw). “The artists benefit from the direct support, and communities benefit from the increased knowledge shared within the community.” 

2012 Native Arts Master Apprenticeship grant recipients:

Watie Akins (Penobscot), Brewer, ME Gabriel Paul (Penobscot), Old Town, ME Traditional music and song
Brenda Hill (Tuscarora), Westerly, RI Venus Reels, Ty’Esha Reels, and Yolanda Smith (Seaconke Wampanoag), Providence, RI Advanced skills in pottery
Elizabeth Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag), Dartmouth, MA Danielle Hill (Mashpee Wampanoag), Mashpee, MA Traditional weaving styles from the New England region
Theresa Secord (Penobscot), Waterville, ME Erica Menard, Freeport, ME and Shannon Secord, Gorham, ME (Penobscot) Advanced techniques in preparation and weaving ash and sweetgrass basketry

In addition to the Master Apprenticeship grants, seven artists received Native Arts New England grants of up to $3,000.   These grants support projects that involve or benefit the community, and address preservation of native arts and cultural traditions, contemporary native arts, and training and technical assistance that will support the artists’ work.

2012 Native Arts New England grant recipients:

Rhonda Besaw (Abenaki), Whitefield, NH Wabanaki beadwork project with research, design, creation and collaboration for a Wabanaki Chief’s coat
Carol Dana (Penobscot), Indian Island, ME Documentation project of the traditional process of and associated Penobscot language around tanning animal hides
Jennifer Kreisberg (Tuscarora), Hartford, CT Traditional and contemporary Eastern Native songs apprenticeship with Alexandra Owens (Eastern Pequot)
Julia Marden (Aquinnah Wampanoag), South Ryegate, VT Traditional Northeastern twining methods apprenticeship with an Aquinnah Wampanoag youth.
Jonathan Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag), Dartmouth, MA Traditional fishing-themed art installation on the Boston Common
Anita “Motherbear” Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag),  West Barnstable, MA Youth projects including the creation of a live action video of historic tribal events, and support for beadwork and regalia making workshops
Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum, Exeter, RI Book creation project that articulates the artistic tradition of wampum work and the continuation of the practice today

About the Program
Guided by Native staff and advisors and fueled by a commitment to increase the visibility, self-determination, and sustainability of Native artists and art forms, NEFA's Native Arts program supports projects that nurture artistic exchange, community development, youth engagement, environmental resource research and preservation, cultural preservation, and artistic innovation. The program is made possible with lead funding from the Ford Foundation's Indigenous Knowledge and Expressive Culture program, with additional funding from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Anonymous donors. Visit or call 617.951.0010 x534 for more.
About NEFA
NEFA creatively supports the movement of people, ideas, and resources in the arts within New England and beyond, makes vital connections between artists and communities, and builds the strength, knowledge, and leadership of the region’s creative sector.  NEFA is a 501 (c) 3 that operates with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England state arts agencies, and from corporations, foundations, and individuals.

NEFA currently administers grantmaking programs of regional, national, and international scope that support the performing arts, public art, and Native American artists. NEFA also leads projects and initiatives that range from the analysis of the impact of the creative economy to the creation of online tools which link and advance the cultural community. For more information on NEFA’s grant programs and services, please visit or call 617.951.0010.