BEMIDJI -- The first-ever Anishinaabe Art Festival will be held July 22-23, 2022, at the Sanford Center.

"Through the lens of the arts, the festival will celebrate the richness of Anishinaabe history, the culture, and the people," a release said. "The planning team, core partners and Native artists are preparing for a dynamic event where we can all come together to exchange stories and share cultural values through craft, visual arts, dance, food, storytelling and fashion."

In 2019, 4-Directions Development, Leech Lake Financial Services and Gizhiigin Arts Incubator met with representatives from the American Indian art community, regional arts organizations and the city of Bemidji to discuss ways of using the arts as an economic and community development vehicle, the release said.

As a result, the group developed the inaugural Anishinaabe Art Festival with support from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant program.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the artistic heritage of the Anishinaabe community, while also providing an outlet for artists to gain exposure and develop their art,” said Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews.

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The Anishinaabe Art Festival will also support artist business development.

“Our artists are so important to our reservation economies and are capable of adding tremendous value to the Bemidji and regional economies," said Sharon James, executive director of 4-Directions Development. "We need to support them as we would any other business.”

For more information, follow the Anishinaabe Art Festival Facebook page.