Fargo artist brings creation myth to life in first tribal youth center – InForum

FARGO – Fargo-Moorhead-based Anna Johnson is an engraver, painter, multimedia artist and owner of Flying 7’s Fine Art.

It is also a connector.

“My big thing in my life is connecting people,” she says.

But ask him more about his art and you will realize that his ability to make connections extends deeply to his skills, talents and interests in the art and the preservation of his Native American roots.

Anna Johnson’s “I Walk With Two Spirits”.

Contribution / Anna Johnson

A registered member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in Belcourt, North Dakota, Johnson connects the past to the present through art depicting the myths and stories of his tribal heritage.

“In my generation, we didn’t have those connections to our histories or our cultures that we should have had,” Johnson says. “As I grew older and older, I wanted to know more about things. When I started to know more, I realized how important it is to pass these things on to the next generation, because who else will? “

Widely recognized throughout the Midwest for her work in the cultural preservation of tribal histories, Johnson recently received a $ 15,000 grant from Waterers. Waterers is a group of “fund managers whose vision is to radically transform the ‘gift’ paradigm from a model of economics of scarcity to a model of abundance and cooperation,” according to waterers.org.

The organization has funded a $ 1.8 million artists’ fund, with a particular focus on “culture carriers” working in Indigenous nations.


Anna Johnson enjoys telling creation stories in her work, such as the creation story of the Turtle Mountain Tribe pictured here.

Contribution / Anna Johnson

With his own funding, Johnson took time off from his job as a truck driver to paint a mural depicting Chippewa’s creation myth of Turtle Mountain on a 26ft by 9ft wall inside the first Tribal Child Advocacy owned and operated by a tribe in the country. Center in Minnesota.

Run by the White Earth DOVE program, the advocacy center is not yet open, but Johnson hopes her mural, which she donated to the organization, will create a colorful, inviting – and meaningful – experience for everyone who walks in its halls.

“It’s the first of its kind. There’s none on any reserve anywhere, ”Johnson says.

DOVE, which stands for Down on Violence Everyday, provides shelter, community outreach services, direct support services, shelter, residential facility support groups, and services for the elderly.

“This advocacy center is going to be so important to do something for our own community in order to continue to revitalize things like this in the state that we should be able to take care of our own Native American children on our own reservations,” he said. Johnson said.

Printmaker Anna Johnson has exhibited her work throughout the community of Fargo-Moorhead and the Turtle Mountains.  Photo Courtesy of Anna Johnson

“The Great Serpent and the Great Flood” by Anna Johnson.

Contribution / Anna Johnson

A plug-and-play truck driver for Aggregate Industries, Johnson spends the months away from the wheel ordering artwork, teaching art classes and volunteering for YouthWorks, the native association located above the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity at the Plains Art Museum, and many other organizations.

She also participated in the Roberts Street “Welcome to Fargo” postcard mural, where she painted Ojibway floral elements, hummingbirds and rabbits. It was also designed for many community art projects, such as utility box illustrations and a park bench. Johnson also has a permanent job at the West Acres Mall and other high traffic areas of the community.

While not sure exactly when the children’s rights center will open to the public in White Earth, she looks forward to the day it does – and Johnson plans to continue to make more connections in the community, at both with the people she meets and through the art she does.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit that cultivates the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit www.theartspartnership.net.