This year’s award celebration commemorated a fitting year-end conclusion to Vision Maker Media’s 45th year celebration of events, facilitating Native storytelling through media. Vision Maker Media has been periodically bestowing this award since 2006 in commemoration of the remarkable accomplishments of our Founding Executive Director, Frank Blythe.
On the evening of December 16, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska, members of the Lincoln Community, PBS network, Vision Maker Media founders, board, staff, partners, advocates and friends came together at the Country Club of Lincoln for the presentation of the Frank Blythe Award for Media Excellence. The award was presented to a significant and well-deserving contributor and outstanding advocate for Native content for public media, Ron Hull.
Ron Hull has been part of many firsts in his 60 years with Nebraska Public Media, including the creation and first meeting of the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium, now known as Vision Maker Media. A lot has changed since that first meeting, but Ron’s support of the organization has never wavered.
“He [Ron Hull] was always a solid board member and always very supportive of everything we did. I think it’s appropriate and long past due that he receives this award and recognition. We should have recognized him when I was there, as he’s always been a strong supporter for minority cultural storytelling in public media,” said [Frank] Blythe. “He helped get the organization partnered with Nebraska Public Media.”
Ron Hull thanked the audience for the award and stated that the award symbolizes to him the many years of associations with Frank Blythe and others, the history, growth and successes of VMM efforts in telling those stories with truth and integrity.
Videos edited by Frank Blanquet (Yucatec Maya) from First Nations Experience
Vision Maker Media is wrapping up its yearlong 45th Anniversary celebration of free thematic film program streaming, virtual panel discussions, filmmaker workshops, presenting Native talent at community events, and supporting more filmmakers in one year than ever before. Our final event will be the presentation of the Frank Blythe Award for Media Excellence, in our hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, to a significant contributor for Native content for public media. Vision Maker Media has been periodically giving this award since 2006 in commemoration of the remarkable accomplishments of our founding executive director Frank Blythe—who also retired that same year. Each time we give out the award, we commission a Native artist to create that year’s award. This year, we selected Kevin Pourier, award-winning Oglala Lakota artist, and artist Florentine Blue Thunder (Sicangu Lakota/Burnt Thigh People).
Kevin Pourier is an Oglala Lakota artist that lives and works in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation with his wife Valerie, whom he often collaborates with on pieces.1 The self-taught artist’s intricate work has been exhibited around the country and collected numerous awards. In the past decade alone, he received the Best in Class, First place, and Judge’s Choice Awards in the Diverse Arts category and the Judge’s Choice Award in the Cutting Edge category at the Heard Museum Art Show. In the same ten-year span, he also received Best of Classification, Best of Division, and First Place awards in the Diverse Art forms category at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Santa Fe Market twice and won the event’s top honor, Best of Show, in 2018.2
The buffalo horn belt that won the Best in Show at the SWAIA Market has become one of his best-known pieces and now permanently resides at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Titled “Winyan Wanakiksin” (“Women Defenders of Others”), the belt features the images of eight Native American women leaders, honoring the strength and support Native women everywhere give their communities.3
The belt is visually stunning, but crafting the belt was not just about creating something beautiful. It was to draw attention to issues Native communities face.
“I don’t think any of them [the featured women] expected that this piece would get the attention that it did. They’re mostly kind of like me where they’re really surprised that their image has gotten so much attention and it’s going to the Smithsonian.” He told South Dakota Public Broadcasting. “This has just taken on a whole life of its own because it’s not just something that I made, but it’s stories of eight different women and their families and their communities. A lot of people are interested. There’s so many things happening that’s centered around this, maybe bigger things to come.”4
View more of Kevin Pourier’s work by visiting his social media and website links below.
Florentine Blue Thunder is a Sicangu Lakota/Burnt Thigh People Star Quilt maker, creating intricate star designs in vibrant colors. Star quilts require great skill and time to create and are often used to commemorate important life events.5