Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
University of California / Los Angeles
Wówayuphike: Relationships between Lakota Art, Land, and Culture

The purpose of my project is to demonstrate a Lakota cultural continuum that is communicated through art. My project aims to articulate the current ways Lakota people signal relationships through the intersection of art and land. I use culture, language, and ontology as a guide for my analysis of art practices to ensure that I thoroughly employ Lakota ways of knowing. Wówayuphike loosely translates to “art” and yet, some cultural bearers would argue that the concept of “art” does not exist. Rather, wówayuphike signals skill or cleverness. I use wówayuphike to signal a Lakota people’s ingenuity. Previous Lakota art scholarship addresses craft practices and often are not included in fine art conversations; while on the other hand examinations of fine art often neglected ontological dialogue. I posit that Lakota people’s ingenuity comes from sharing of quotidian art practices through current mediums like filmmaking and personal adornment. I ground my work in an autoethnographic approach to focus my engagement as a researcher to specific geographic sites of relational significance. I present an ethnography of artists, cultural bearers, and community members to address a generational understanding of place and art. The ethnographies will highlight oral stories, visual artifacts, culture documents, personal histories, archival material, and adornment. My data collection includes participant observation, interviews, document/textual analysis, and video analysis. I shape the gathering of data through my personal and cultural connection to art and land under the influence of Lakota seasonal preparation. I draw on an intergenerational and cultural engagement to the work as a Lakota woman, scholar, artist, and language learner. My research imagines the artistry of everyday Lakota skill as embedded in relationality, reciprocity, and shared joy. The goal of the dissertation is to advance the understanding of the relationship between art and land that is innate to Lakota culture.