Native American Artist-in-Residence Program

EligibilityProposalsApplication ProcessSelection ProcessContact Information

The Native American Artist-in-Residence (NAAIR) program was created for the purpose of exposing Native American artists working within traditional art forms to Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) collections in order to:

  • Advance their understanding of the traditional form of art and
  • Bring this advanced understanding to their communities in a way designed by the artist.

NAAIR will allow the MNHS collections to benefit tremendously from knowledge shared by the artists regarding what they have learned about the construction, style and meaning of various collections items. More importantly, these historic resources can serve as platforms upon which cultural learning and sharing takes place.

NAAIR is open to artists practicing in all forms of (material culture) traditional art. Traditional art can be defined as art forms and techniques that are passed down through generations. In regards to Native American traditional art, this includes beadwork and quillwork, but also utilitarian forms such as bow-making and canoe-making.

Past participants of the NAAIR program reflect on their experiences in the video playlist below. Watch as they discuss how the residency has affected their work.



NAAIR is open to Native American artists currently residing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota who are currently permitted to work within the United States. Enrollment in a federally recognized tribe is not a requirement, but the artist must be recognized by his or her community and demonstrate significant artistic knowledge.


Applying artists will submit a proposal that encompasses both a research and output component that outlines his/her plan of study into the Native American collections, as well as a plan for developing the community-based output project.

The research proposal will detail why the artist’s study of collections is important not only as an artist and maker, but also to the community as a whole. It should include specifics on the research plan regarding which collections will be used, what other institutions might be part of that plan and potential involvement of other experts in the art form, including elders.

The community-based project will be inspired by collections research of the artist in order to disseminate new knowledge of the art form in the artist’s community. Special consideration will be given to projects incorporating deep transfer of cultural knowledge, such as building curricula and organize community-based youth classes, or the development of a relationship with an apprentice artist. This project is to be completed within three months of the end of the residency.  

Application Process

NOTE: The following materials must be submitted (mailed, faxed, emailed, or dropped off) on or before October 31, 2022:

  • Native American Artist-in-Residence Application: Submit online or download NAAIR Application (PDF)
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Artist Statement
  • Letter of Support
  • Portfolio
  • Research Proposal
  • Community Project Proposal

Please submit all application materials online or to:

Rita Walaszek Arndt, Collections Outreach Specialist, Native American Initiatives    
Minnesota Historical Society    
345 Kellogg Blvd. W.    
St. Paul, MN 55102


Selection Process

Applicants will be evaluated on both the quality of their work and the strength and feasibility of their research and project proposals. An advisory panel consisting of culturally knowledgeable community member experts will review completed applications and make recommendations to program staff. Program staff will make final selections and notify selected applicants of acceptance to the program.

Contact Information

Rita Walaszek Arndt, Collections Outreach Specialist, Native American Initiatives

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