Sorell receives First Peoples Fund fellowship

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/15/2018 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Traci Sorell
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The First Peoples Fund recently welcomed a new cohort of artist fellows who embody the “Collective Spirit” and whose lives reflect the traditional values at the heart of FPF’s mission - generosity, wisdom, respect, integrity, strength, fortitude and humility. And one of the 15 artists selected to receive the ABL fellowship is writer and Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Sorell of Olathe, Kansas.

“I am humbled to receive this fellowship. I hadn’t initially realized all the marketing costs related to the launch of a debut picture book. My friend suggested that I apply for the First Peoples Fund’s Artist in Business Leadership fellowship because it provides training, support and financial resources to artists wanting to grow their business,” Sorell said. “I am so grateful to be selected and look forward to the professional training that First Peoples Fund will provide me and the other fellows when we gather in Santa Fe, New Mexico, next month (March).”

Sorell said the fellowship will help her launch an author website and design and print promotional materials for her book “We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” which is set for release on Sept. 4.

The fellowship also will create a free downloadable curriculum guide for teachers and anyone else to download from Sorell’s website and pay for travel to book-related events.

“These costs would be very difficult for me to cover without the fellowship’s help,” she said. “Having this support also allows me to focus my time on writing more books and getting them ready for submission because that’s what is required to grow my business as a children’s book author.”

Each year First Peoples offers two fellowship-grant programs for artists: Artist in Business Leadership and Cultural Capital.

“We have such a range of mediums,” First Peoples Fund Program Manager Mary Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota) said. “Everything from Indigenous foods to performing artists. We have artists using traditional techniques in modern ways. I’m excited about working with the artists, seeing them grow, and their projects come to fruition.”

Through projects of their design, as well as assistance and training provided by First Peoples Fund, it is hoped the 15 artists selected will develop skills to help them grow a thriving business for themselves and their families.

“When an individual artist is uplifted and supported, they impact their families, communities and the benefits can ripple out regionally and nationally. This inspires artists to fully honor their cultural creativity and frees them to embrace their Native identity and voice,” Bordeaux said. “The Artist in Business Leadership fellows are doing work within to stabilize themselves as artists.”

Receiving the fellowship goes beyond support for a year or a single project. Artist fellows are brought into the First Peoples Fund family and introduced to a network of artists, market opportunities and have a chance to build relationships while they grow their confidence and ability as artists.

Founded in 1995, First Peoples Fund honors and supports the “Collective Spirit” of First Peoples artists and culture bearers and strives to make a difference, pass on ancestral knowledge and extend a hand of generosity.

For more information, visit www.firstpeoplesfund.org or email info@firstpeoplesfund.org.

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