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Ziibiwing Center hosts Circle of Indigenous Arts Market

The Circle of Indigenous Arts Market and Competition took place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21 in the Ziibiwing Center.

As part of a celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the market is sponsored by Charles Schwab and serves to showcase artists and the importance of the arts within the community.

"The arts are not only a way to express the culture," Assistant Director of Ziibiwing Center Judy Pamp said. "They help the economy, educate the public and other artists about our culture, and encourage youth to express themselves through artwork."

The Circle of Indigenous Arts started earlier in the week with the Indigenous People's Artistic Merit (IPAM) Awards where artists are honored for their various pieces.

American Indian art may be objects to improve the quality of life, like canoes, fish nets or winnowing trays. Other pieces may have been produced for religious or spiritual reasons like baskets and dream catchers, or to show love and commitment through beading a bandoleer bag, making regalia, or a cradleboard. The medium doesn't matter, Native Americans continue to share their thought, visions, spiritual beliefs, and reverence for all things in creation through their arts.

Some of the awards given at IPAM were the Minnie Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Saginaw Chippewa Tribe member Dennis Christy Sr., The Daniel "Gomez" Mena Master/Apprentice Fellowship, which went to Tribe member Marcella Hadden, and the Ziibiwing Center Ashenigewin (giving back) Award, which went to Tribe member Alice Jo Ricketts.

The Arts Market included various booths set up by many artists from all over the great lakes region. Artists are able to sell their work for a price of their choosing. The market included pieces from master artists which were priced upwards to $3,000 dollars and also work from youth artists with smaller price ranges.

"Many of the pieces are made to share knowledge of the culture to the next generation," Pamp said. "There is clay work that expresses the connection to the earth, floral designs that depict the diversity of plants that help sustain and provide for us. There is a gift of knowledge within the arts. There are also ceremonial pieces like fur pellets, which are used in ceremonies to carry sacral items."

In one room, there are a variety of different mediums being showcased. Anyone who comes in for the market can view the pieces and cast their vote on which they think deserves the "People's Choice Award." This is a way for viewers to be involved in the market and give input on what moves them. The winner will be announced Sunday.

One artist involved in the market, Tribe member and police veteran Joaquin Guerrero, took over his mother's jewelry business. He sells various items including rings, necklaces, and bracelets, all made with natural gems, stones and glass.

"Before my mother passed away she was all about the quality of her jewelry," Guerrero said. "She always put so much into her work, very giving and loving. When I was younger me and my family would form an assembly line in the house and work together to make these pieces, it was a lot of fun. I inherited the business and I love remembering her through it."

Guerrero was also selling his book, "Michigan and Rookie: Guardians of the Night" about his work in New York after 9/11. He also works with Michael Clark selling colloidal silver all-natural soaps.

Other vendors included Moon Bear Pottery, which is done by Shirley Brauker who displayed her ribbons from the Indian Market Festival in 2014, Gegek and Toby Pamp who make baskets and do beading, and Illiana Bennet who was working on an Native American beaded piece, she has been beading for about 21 years.

Pow Wow Arena Director Dave Shananaquet has been painting his whole life and is considered a master. He does a variety of paintings of nature scenes, animals, and now tries to incorporate the Native American culture in all his pieces. He has agreed to work with youth artists and mentor them to further their skills and knowledge.

"I like to watch television and see the artists on PBS," Shananaquet said. "You can always learn something from artists of any sort. Inspiration is everywhere. I sold my first piece when I was thirteen and now my artwork is in six museums."

Tribe Elder Elizabeth Kimewon makes baskets out of birchbark and porcupine quills. She sometimes dyes the quills with berries to get vibrant colors. She explains the process of making these baskets to people who come by her table at the market.

Public Relations Manager and Tribal Member Marcella Hadden was showcasing her photography at the market. She had a room set up to do photos of families or anyone who was interested. She showcased her photo prints of the moon on one table.

"I was excited about the blood moon," said Hadden. "I live near the woods so we had to drive to the end of my driveway to see it. My business is named 'Summer Moon' because that is my indian name. I love shooting the moon, but my photos are mostly of native dancers and things related to my culture."

Walled Lake junior Andrew Paquette is a volunteer at the Ziibiwing Center was at the craft table at the arts market. Throughout the day he helped teach visitors how to make beaded keychains, birchbark ornaments and sleigh ornaments.

"There's no unimportant job at the center," Paquette said. "I help do research about ancestors, cleaning up exhibits and setting up artifacts. It's a very pleasant experience being able to work with so many interesting people. I like to help out in anyway to benefit the museum, even if it's just setting up or cleaning up."