North Dakota Council on the Arts (Bismarck, ND)


An animals hide streched on a frame is scraped with a metal blade by a man on the left, an older man looks on from the right

Master traditional artist Marvin Bald Eagle Youngman, wearing hat, instructs his apprentice Vernon Langan in traditional Chippewa hide tanning as part of North Dakota Council on the Arts's Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Council on the Arts

The North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) was established in 1967 by the state legislature to support and develop the arts and artists throughout North Dakota. One of their programs is the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, which preserves North Dakota's diverse living traditions, particularly those folk traditions that are rare or endangered. Former apprentices have gone on to participate in the Artist-in-Residence program, which places artists in K-12 classrooms for 10-week sessions to incorporate folk arts learning into classroom curriculum.

In FY 2004, NDCA received an NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Infrastructure Initiative grant of $30,000 to support its statewide Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. In 2004, 17 master-apprentice teams participated in the ten-month program. Teams came from a diverse array of North Dakota communities including Butte (population: 92) and Fargo (population: 90,000), and apprentices ranged in age from 14-85. Some of the traditional arts supported by the program included Norwegian hardanger fiddle construction, saddle making, Chippewa beadwork, and traditional button accordion music.

Although all apprenticeships took place during the ten-month period, the amount of time each team spent working together varied depending on the difficulty of the tradition, the apprentice's experience level, and the team's ambitiousness. At the completion of the apprenticeship, each apprentice participated in a public demonstration or presentation of his or her folk tradition, such as a classroom visit or festival performance. Apprentices also submitted written reports about their experience and plans to continue working in the folk tradition.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)