The Nenana Mural Arts Project was a long held dream of mine that thanks to the coordnation and cooperation of the many groups & individuals involved, as well as some generous funding support from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, is something that is growing and spreading across these walls, and I hope soon, to more walls and buildings throughout this village.
Nenana is unique in many ways; because of its location and accessibility, the proximity to the many resources in Fairbanks, and the unique dynamic the Nenana Student Living Center adds to the town, I believe this village is a prime location for a public mural arts project. Over the past few years, I have been working with Coghill’s Store, the Nenana Native Council (NNC), Toghotthele Corporation, the City of Nenana, & Nenana Schools/Student Living Center to plan a collaborative community project in which we will create a series of painted murals which depict the history of Nenana, also including the connection we have with our sister village, Minto, through key people, elders in particular, and events.
The creation of a mural is an activity that not only introduces creativity and arts education to our youth (& our adult volunteers!), but it can also help build job skills, develop creative problem solving, experience, and leadership. I hope that these projects will not only give our youth active roles within the community, but a voice, ownership, and pride—in where they are from and the role they have played in its change. This is our village and our stories. Though our tongues and dialect may change throughout the years, our voices remain, growing louder every day; this is an opportunity to allow the young people of the community to come to voice and make a change as well as tell our stories with a rainbow of pigments!