IAIA 101,

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imag­ine that vis­ual art stu­dents would ben­e­fit from big­ger stu­dios on the new cam­pus, but po­ets just need desks and some writ­ing tools. At Col­lege of Santa Fe, we all walked down that long hall­way to the cafe­te­ria to­gether in the win­ter and told ghost sto­ries.” Bit­sui, an award-win­ning writer, cur­rently teaches cre­ative writ­ing at IAIA and San Diego State Univer­sity.

Though the fu­ture still felt ten­u­ous, the school had a 140-acre par­cel of land south­west of town, do­nated by the Ran­cho Viejo Part­ner­ship in 1989. When War­rior be­came pres­i­dent, she and the board of trustees de­cided it was time to build roads to the new site and get some in­fra­struc­ture in place. The first build­ing erected was the hogan, ma­te­ri­als for which were do­nated in 1999 by the Amer­i­can In­dian Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Con­sor­tium. Stu­dents, staff, fac­ulty, and alumni as­sisted with con­struc­tion. “When we were out there, one of the board mem­bers said there was an ea­gle com­ing over­head,” War­rior re­called. “I said it was prob­a­bly a buz­zard, but it was an ea­gle, and it cir­cled the hogan four times be­fore it flew off. We knew then that ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be all right.” To­day, IAIA is a four-year col­lege of­fer­ing bach­e­lor and as­so­ciate of fine arts de­grees in stu­dio arts, cre­ative writ­ing, mu­seum stud­ies, and cin­e­matic arts and tech­nol­ogy; as­so­ciate’s and bach­e­lor’s de­grees in Na­tive Amer­i­can and in­dige­nous lib­eral stud­ies; and on­line cer­tifi­cate pro­grams in mu­seum stud­ies, Na­tive Amer­i­can art his­tory, and busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship. In 2013 a low-res­i­dency (dis­tance-learn­ing) mas­ter of fine arts pro­gram in cre­ative writ­ing was in­tro­duced. Plans are in the works to rein­tro­duce pro­grams that were elim­i­nated dur­ing the lean years of the bud­get cuts, in­clud­ing per­form­ing arts. The stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, which has dou­bled since Robert Martin (Chero­kee) suc­ceeded War­rior as pres­i­dent in 2007, is now 531, with more than half of stu­dents en­rolled full-time. Sixty per­cent of stu­dents live on cam­pus, and about 20 per­cent of stu­dents are non-Na­tive. Seventy-five fed­er­ally rec­og­nized tribes are rep­re­sented. Well over half of the fac­ulty is Na­tive, as is roughly half of the staff and ad­min­is­tra­tion. Martin would like to see en­roll­ment dou­ble again by 2017, and with tu­ition a mere frac­tion of the cost of that at com­pa­ra­ble art schools, this seems fea­si­ble.

IAIA alumni are among the stars of Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket and the Indige­nous Fine Art Mar­ket, and their work can be found in mu­se­ums and gal­leries, as well as in books and films. With the in­tro­duc­tion of ul­tra­mod­ern art prac­tices like fab­ri­ca­tion and mo­tion-cap­ture dig­i­tal video, the art be­ing made is

start­ing to look very dif­fer­ent than that made by some of the in­sti­tute’s most fa­mous alumni, who cast long shad­ows that can be in­tim­i­dat­ing for young artists ready to step into the spot­light.

“Dan Nam­ingha, T.C. Can­non — all of those that get men­tioned so of­ten — we call them the alumni of our golden age,” Teters said. “It sounds like we have no cur­rent stars, but we do. I think the next golden age is now.”

As has been tra­di­tion since the 1960s, many IAIA alumni re­turn to teach af­ter com­plet­ing grad­u­ate stud­ies and achiev­ing some artis­tic suc­cess. One such alumna is Rose B. Simp­son, from Santa Clara Pue­blo, who teaches a course in in­dige­nous aes­thet­ics. Her grand­mother Rina Swentzell, went to IAIA, as did her mother, Rox­anne Swentzell. Simp­son earned an MFA in ce­ram­ics from the Rhode Is­land School of De­sign, where she wrote her the­sis on the dif­fer­ence be­tween Western and in­dige­nous aes­thet­ics. She is rep­re­sented by Chiaroscuro Con­tem­po­rary Art in Santa Fe, and her work is in the Den­ver Art Mu­seum, the Port­land Mu­seum of Art in Maine, and other col­lec­tions. Simp­son grad­u­ated from IAIA in 2007 with a BFA in stu­dio arts and a rep­u­ta­tion as an out­spo­ken critic of what she con­sid­ers the “post-colo­nial stress dis­or­der” men­tal­ity em­bed­ded in the mis­sion of the school.

“Be­ing a Na­tive artist is dif­fer­ent from be­ing Na­tive in gen­eral,” she said. “We’re the weirdos of our tribes, so IAIA was like a huge tribe of in­dige­nous weirdos, and that was a val­i­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.” But Simp­son was in­ter­ested in hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions that not ev­ery­one wanted to en­gage in, such as the idea that IAIA was founded as a way to ed­u­cate artists in the best way to ex­ploit their cul­ture for fi­nan­cial gain. “It was part of as­sim­i­la­tion, the col­o­niza­tion process to get in­dige­nous peo­ple to live within the Western eco­nomic world. The In­dian art world — Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket and all that jazz — has sup­ported and fed me, so there are pros and cons to all of it. I just want to have the con­ver­sa­tion. I want to ask ques­tions in­stead of pre­tend­ing that if you have your [cer­tifi­cate of de­gree of In­dian blood] and you draw some­thing and put a feather on it, you can make a liv­ing. I say that I claim IAIA and all of its prob­lems, be­cause at this point it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to change the con­ver­sa­tion and di­a­logue. The In­dian art world has been marginal­ized, so how do we cre­ate a di­a­logue about why this is, and how do we rem­edy it? IAIA is a think-tank full of the most cre­ative lead­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties who can fos­ter and nur­ture a new re­al­ity for our peo­ple.”

2015 IAIA com­mence­ment; photo Ja­son S. Or­daz

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