Higher education institutions take great pride in their historic structures that hold cultural significance. At Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) that structure happens to be a tipi.
The tipi serves as the perfect example of the holistic nature of a tribal college education, which integrates place, community, and cultural values into curriculum. The tipi, a gift from Travois, a Kansas City, Missouri-based consulting firm, and the American Indian College Fund, was used to publicize “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Travois, a museum corporate partner, gave the tipi to the College Fund to further awareness of its work, the tribal colleges, and Native cultures.
This tipi marries the functionality of traditional Plains Indians architecture with modern art. Its side walls serve as a canvas for Native artists Ryan Red Corn (Osage) of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Bobby Wilson (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) of Phoenix, Arizona. Both artists are members of the renowned 1491s comedy troupe, which has appeared on the Daily Show with John Stewart and TEDx Talks. “We know the 1491s, and we love their work. Ryan and Bobby created a mural at our headquarters, and we welcomed the opportunity to work together again,” says Elizabeth Glynn, the CEO of Travois. “We hope the tipi can be used to help create more recognition of American Indian students and to encourage arts education.”
Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, added, “The American Indian College Fund’s facilitation of the donation by Travois of a tipi painted by two leading Native artists and performers reflects the commitment of all parties to preserving our cultural arts and honoring our traditions. We are proud to be part of this partnership and thank Travois for making it possible.”
Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, president of CCCC, said, “The gift of a painted tipi to CCCC is immeasurable! The teaching, learning, and practicing of Dakota values are core to our work as educators for the Spirit Lake Dakota community. The tipi will contribute to art, culture, history, and all our programs of study toward the development and success of our students. Setting up a tipi is a key task when we hold culture camps for college and high school students as well as teaching them about the practical aspects of making, living in, and transporting a tipi.”