Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an opportunity to honor Native American peoples and celebrate their contributions, history, and culture. When marking this day, we feel it is important not to only think of Indigenous peoples and culture in the past tense. In every community, Indigenous people are making unique contributions to society, creating inspired art, and running successful businesses. In an effort to celebrate those accomplishments in the present, this week we are highlighting Indigenous people doing interesting and inspired things. This is the third post in our weeklong celebration of Indigenous citizens across the country.

 

Judy Winchester: Chair of Elders Council 

As a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Judy recognizes and honors her Tribal culture as well as Elders within the tribe that offer wisdom, knowledge, and language for future generations. Judy is the Chair of the Elders Council for the Pokagon Potawatomi, where she works to better meet the needs of Tribal Elders. In addition, Judy serves as the Vice President for the Michigan Indian Elders Association. Judy’s desire to give back to her Tribe is evident to all who meet and work alongside her, and her commitment to her people and their quality of life is unwavering.

The photos of Judy in this article highlight that she has been involved in the work of the Pokagon Band for decades. In the photo taken of Judy in her tribal regalia, dating back to the sesquicentennial of Niles, Michigan, in 1987, she stands with her father Joe Winchester. In the group photo, Judy stands to the right of Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttieg and other community leaders to celebrate the restoration of the Pokagon Tribal homeland.

 

Judy Winchester Pokagon

 

Jeremy Salazar: Artist

Jeremy Salazar, the artist behind Three Feather Studios, is a painter living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jeremy was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation, and he believes his humble upbringing is responsible for shaping both his artistic perspective and purpose. The artist’s paintings are often portraits, which he creates using a unique combination of realism and abstraction techniques. The vibrant colors shape each piece, bringing life to the canvas.

Recently, Jeremy began a campaign to improve the quality of life for others on the Navajo Reservation. Called Outhouse Outreach, the campaign generates money through the sale of Jeremy’s limited-edition canvas prints to fund work that repairs and replaces outhouses on the reservation. This is just one example of the many ways that Jeremy uses his art to uplift and impact his community.

Denise Martin: Entrepreneur

Denise is a proud citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the owner and operator of Painted Ponies, LLC. Denise’s company provides wholesale merchandise to Native American governments and businesses throughout Indian Country. Once a Senior Vice President of Entertainment and Marketing at a large corporation, Denise turned to a life of small business ownership and thrives in her new role. Although COVID-19 has had an impact on her business model, largely because of casino closures, Denise switched direction and began successfully selling PPE instead. Masks ended up being the #1 seller for Painted Ponies this summer.

Denise is a support for other aspiring Native entrepreneurs. She encourages Indigenous people to clearly identify the purpose of their business so they know what they are working for and what objectives they hope to achieve. On a practical level, Denise advocates that all Native entrepreneurs start out with a strong business plan and take full advantage of any resources available to them.

 

Adina Farinango: Artist 

Adina Farinango is an Indigenous Kichwa artist. Currently based in the Bronx, NYC, Adina uses her work to highlight the incredible resilience and strength of matriarchs within her community. For Adina, art is both a form of self-expression and a means of activism. Through her work, Adina hopes to occupy more digital space in the world, amplifying the voices and representation of Indigenous people so that they feel empowered and heard.

Adina’s digital illustrations combine Kichwa cultural tradition with the modern world in a beautiful and creative way. While evoking the past, they are also a reminder that Indigenous people, and women in particular, are present and powerful beings in the here and now.  Her work can be found on Instagram at @adinasdoodles, or you can view and purchase art from her website.