Our Town

North Dakota Museum of Art (Grand Forks, ND)

Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation, North Dakota




Poles of a tepee in the middle of an exhibition space.

"Songs for Spirit Lake" exhibition installed in the Rauschenberg Project Space in New York City, June 2013. The exhibition included the work of six artists who will spend three years collaborating on art in response to current life on Spirit Lake Reservation. The show will open October 17, 2013, in a new mechanical building at the Spirit Lake Nation's Cankdeska Cikana Community College before the building reverts to its planned usage. Photo by Thomas Mueller courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art.

The NEA grant will support planning for a new community arts center on the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation, including the commission and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century American Indian art. The North Dakota Museum of Art (NDMA) and Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) will work with consultant Artspace Projects, Inc., to identify space on the CCCC campus in Fort Totten, North Dakota, to include a gallery, design studio, artist workshops, live/work studio apartments, and sales opportunities for Native artists. NDMA will expand its collection of modern and contemporary Native art, including public art commissions, to be shared with the new arts center through temporary exhibitions and ancillary programs.

The Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation population is 6,223, of which 47.3 percent are unemployed. Spirit Lake has a strong tradition of making and valuing traditional art, and the project seeks to expand this emphasis on arts and culture to help alleviate the prevalence of alcohol abuse, crime, and depression and restore community life through the healing power of dance, music and visual arts.