Four Native Leaders Receive Bush Fellowships, Including Sioux Chef Sean Sherman and New Native Theater Founder Rhiana Yazzie

The Bush Foundation just announced its 2018 Bush Fellows, and among them are: Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef’; Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo), film maker, playwright and founder of the New Native Theater; and Nick Tilsen and Erik Bringswhite of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Tilsen is working on increasing the financial well being of his community. Bringswhite wants to improve supports for Native children. The official announcements follow.

Here is Sherman’s Bush Fellowship announcement:

Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota Sioux, knows that food is the heart of every culture. He also understands that his fellow Native Americans were stripped of their connections to Indigenous food systems and practices. To build his community’s physical, economic and spiritual strength, he wants to reconnect Native communities with traditional food knowledge and to Native agriculture systems. While he began this work as founder of The Sioux Chef and NATIFS, he now seeks to become the visionary leader his community needs through building an extensive global network and gaining deeper knowledge of Indigenous culture and foods. With his Bush Fellowship, he will research, create, cultivate and share Indigenous food systems and further his Lakota, Ojibwe and Spanish language skills.

Here is Yazzie’s Bush Fellowship announcement:

Rhiana Yazzie uses storytelling to create original work that reveals the complex, beautiful reality of Native Americans. She wants to help Native people reclaim their narrative and to change the way they view themselves. She believes that the self-expression found in playwrighting, acting, design and filmmaking can help people find their place in the world. But as the head of one of the only Native-focused theater companies in the country, she is often isolated in her leadership. With her Bush Fellowship, she will seek connections with aboriginal theatre companies around the globe and pursue coaching to develop a strategic leadership plan that reflects her artistic ambitions and cultural values.

Here is Tilsen’s Bush Fellowship announcement:

Nick Tilsen creates pathways out of poverty for people on Pine Ridge Reservation. As the founding executive director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, he has led large-scale efforts to build hope and prosperity for his fellow Oglala Lakota people. Now, he seeks to launch a national collective of Native leaders who can advise tribes, funders and organizations on the most successful approaches for Native people across the country to build financial and philanthropic infrastructure that will change power dynamics and support the self-determination of Indigenous people. To transition from a place-based leader to a large-scale, national mentor, he will seek counsel from other high impact social entrepreneurs and adopt a leadership path that models a culturally appropriate, healthy work-life balance.

Here is Bringswhite’s Bush Fellowship  announcement:

Erik Bringswhite wants his community to raise healthy, ethical Native children. As a long-time foster parent and juvenile justice worker, he is a role model to many on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the state of South Dakota. Now, he wants to increase his confidence and ability to bring the Native perspective to tables where decisions are made. He believes that courageous, confident Native leaders are vital for finding culturally appropriate, lasting solutions for their people. To become that bold leader, he will earn his master’s degree in social work, develop cultural resources for raising healthy children and expand his connections with Native and non-Native leaders.

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