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The Ucross Foundation recently welcomed their 2022 Native American Fellows

The Ucross Foundation’s 2022 Native American Fellows recently finished their two-week fellowship after being welcomed earlier this month.M.L. Smoker, a poet andSavannah LeCornu, a visual artist were this year's awardees.

Smoker, who is Nakoda, Dakota, and Lakota, is originally from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana and served as a Montana Co-Poet Laureate from 2019-2021.LeCornu is Tsimshian (Wolf Clan), Haida, Athabascan, Nez Perce and First Nations Nisga’a, originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, and currently lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Smoker and LeCornu spent two weeks at Ucross where they worked on projects.

“My primary goal is to write additional poems so that I can complete my second collection,” Smoker said. “I probably came here with half of that near completion and so I’d like to write more poems that can become a part of that. We get so busy with career and family and the challenges of the pandemic, it’s just nice to come here and have some space to refresh, regroup, and for me, to remind myself that creating more time and space for writing is really important.”

Smoker said she was encouraged to apply by close friends back in Montana. In addition to writing poetry, she also writes some nonfiction and has achildren's graphic novel set to come out later this month.

Savannah LeCornu often works with ink and paper in her artwork. This was her first experience with an artist’s residency program.

“Since it was uninterrupted time, I actually decided to focus on acrylic painting which I haven’t done in a long time,” she said. “My hope was to do some bigger canvases, but I ended up doing four small ones and one large piece.”

LeCornu said that as an indigenous woman, much of her style and content reflects native perspectives, including a series titled “Still Here” that depicts native peoples in places where she lived and where indigenous people still live. These locations include Ketchikan, Alaska, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Bellingham. She additionally has an “Indigenize Series” that depicts national parks and landmarks, restoring the indigenous names to them.

“My goal was to, since I’ve never been to Wyoming or anywhere in this area, to draw inspiration from this area and incorporate it into my style,” she said. “I have a piece inspired by Ucross with form line elements as well as some beaded flash painted pieces that are inspired by the animals of this area.”

Both Smoker and LeCornu received a $2,000 award in addition to $1,000 to help with travel expenses for their selection as part of their fellowship.

Ucross announced theirNative American fellowship in July 2017 to support Native American artists in all stages of their professional careers.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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