Over the last several months, the development of a New England Native Arts Consortium has been underway. With a planning grant in hand, I, Dawn Spears, former Native Arts program manager at NEFA, have taken on the task of coordinating meetings to explore planning a consortium that will continue and build on the work that began at NEFA. The planning grant was given to five organizations, all former Native Arts program grantees/partners who represented the region and would be able to network with their artist communities.

Our first meeting was a conference call. In this meeting, focus areas and goals were discussed, a mission statement was formed (see both at the end of this post), and two name selections were determined.  Naming our consortium was not as simple as just calling it the New England Native Arts Consortium; we wanted a name that would be fully understood, and we did not agree that New England or Native fully represented who we are.  As the indigenous population, we again were being forced to fit in a system of using borders, or regional boundaries that we never had or supported.  Why not broaden our possibilities by using “Northeast” and incorporating the historic border relationships and fill the void that we know exists on a national level? I proposed that we bring these two names to our artists and larger community for a vote, and on July 4, I put the question out on Facebook seeking responses from our community.

We ended our poll with over 65 votes from artists, organizations, both Native and non-Native, past advisors, and more, that spanned across the six states of New England, New York and Canada. I launched social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The name Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance was born! We reached over a 100 likes on Facebook on the first day.

The next two meetings were held in July alongside artist events. One was in Bar Harbor, ME, for the annual Native American Artist Market, and the second on Martha’s Vineyard at the Aquinnah Cultural Center’s annual Artist Market.  Several of our planning group members were in attendance representing Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, and Tomaquag Museum.  The planning process is moving along at a steady pace as we discuss and look at the many areas that we would like to address and cultivate for the region. The beautiful settings for these meetings have been inspiring; it’s not every meeting that ends with a super moon!

As I meet and share updates with artists, I am getting lots of feedback and I am encouraging artists to reach out to me at NEindigenousartsalliance@gmail.com.  We are truly at the beginning of this journey so our meetings have been working meetings, with very specific agendas, but our intention is to get things off the ground as soon as possible. I encourage you to look at our information posted on the Facebook page.  All suggestions are welcome.  I ask our artist community and beyond to be patient and send us comments. We want to hear from you.



Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance Mission & Goals


To strengthen and support the Northeast Indigenous artist community by providing opportunities that will promote, protect, preserve and continue the artistic vitality of work here in the region.


  • To promote and protect Northeast Native American art, artists and resources needed to make the art.
  • To provide support to NE Native American artists by bringing the tools needed to enhance their productivity,
  • To empower artists by providing professional development opportunities to encourage successful business leadership.
  • To provide technical assistance for artists who need help in applying to opportunities
  • To raise the visibility of NE Native Art and its artists.