Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Frank Quimby, 202-208-7291
For Immediate Release, September 23, 2004
Carrie Moore, 202-208-3460
Interior Honors Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Museum Director Rick West, Indian Artists

WASHINGTON - Lauding their distinguished careers and lifelong support for Indian artists, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today presented Living Legacy Awards to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, W. Richard West, founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and Jesse Monongya, a commissioner of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

At a ceremony attended by 700 invited guests, Norton also honored Cruz McDaniels II, an Indian artist and art teacher from Riverside Indian School in Oklahoma and his talented student, Myron Wahnee Jr., a high school senior.

"While there are many people from many nations here today, we share the same ideals - an abiding respect for American Indian culture; a gratitude to these individuals for the gifts they continue to give and a determination that their legacies will live on," Norton said at the awards event, the highlight of weeklong activities at Interior's national headquarters celebrating the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian.

"The art crafted by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell continues to influence generations of jewelers," Norton noted. "The safeguards and regulations he crafted in Congress through the Indian Arts and Crafts Act will continue to protect the works of future generations of Indian artists."

Campbell was recognized for his distinguished career as an artist, educator, and legislator. Senator Campbell's career as an artist followed the time-honored tradition of learning his craft from his father. As he developed as a jeweler, he incorporated his own experience into a personal style that not only set him apart as an artist, but also influenced a whole generation of jewelers.

When Senator Campbell entered public life, he added legal safeguards for artisans and crafters through truth-in-advertising regulations administered by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Campbell is the only American Indian presently serving in the United States Senate, and is one of 44 Chiefs of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

"Rick West serves another vital role, that of preserving the works of American Indians," Norton said. "His life's work has fostered the continuation of the arts and protected the cultural traditions of Indian peoples. As founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian, he has assured that the arts of Indian peoples enjoy equal status among the cultural assets of the world."

A citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and a Peace Chief of the Southern Cheyenne, West has devoted his professional life and much of his
personal life to working with American Indians on cultural, educational, legal and governmental issues. West also devotes considerable time and energy overseeing the museum's fund-raising efforts, which have raised more than $100 million in non-federal funds for the construction and opening of the museum.

"Jesse Monongya also lives the legacy," Norton said. "A master inlay jeweler in his own right, Jessie is a mentor to young artists and an ambassador of the arts among Indian peoples. He also is a commissioner on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board."

Jesse has served as a mentor and participant in Southwest Meets Northwest, a cultural exchange program between Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni artists and Pacific Northwest Haida artists. Jesse has helped to place historic and contemporary American Indian jewelry in the permanent display at the Heard Museum and was artist-in-residence at the Heard Museum in 1986-87, teaching the centuries-old art of Navajo jewelry making.

"Two of the honorees embody the renewal of the Indian arts legacy celebrated by these honors," Norton said. Cruz McDaniels II is an artist and a teacher whose works have been shown across the country and around the world, while his work of education goes on at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Okla., a Bureau of Indian Affairs school.

McDaniels, of Kiowa, Lakota and Zuni ancestry, served six years with the U.S. Marine Corps, including a tour in East Asia, and has bachelors and masters degrees in art from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

"His distinguished teaching career is directly reflected in the achievements of his students, who routinely secure honors in juried competitions," Norton noted. "One of his students is Myron Wahnee Jr., who is already an accomplished artist and was selected
as representative of the emerging generation of Indian artists."

Wahnee's chalk and pencil piece Elk was selected for the annual American Indian Art calendar for 2005. He is 17 years old, a member of the Delaware Nation of Oklahoma, and loves playing football for the Riverside Braves, video games with his little sisters, and heavy metal music. He also likes Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Wahnee hopes to earn his education degree, return to Riverside, and take his teacher's place.

Biographical information and color images of the award recipients:

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
W. Richard West
Jesse Monongya
Cruz McDaniels II
Myron Wahnee Jr
A Brief History of the BIA Artwork Collection



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