Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Advisory Council

The AAI Advisory Council is comprised of Indigenous artists and arts appreciators from the regions served by the AAI grant. Assistance with your grant request is available from AAI Advisory Council members or from the Region 2 Arts Council Staff at 218-751-5447  or  800-275-5447.

Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council Member Bios

Bernice Mitchell Diver (Cass Lake/Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) Years of AAI Service: 17

Bernice Mitchell-Diver (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) is a bead worker and regalia artist, and avid jingle dress dancer who creating intricate designs and regalia for her husband, herself, and members of her family. Mitchell-Diver is our longest serving member of the Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council. She currently resides in Cass Lake, Minnesota.

Genny Lowry (Bemidji/Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) Years of AAI Service: 16

Genevieve “Genny” Lowry (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe-Pillager Band) was born and raised in Cass Lake, Minnesota by parents Benjamin and Margaret Lowry, with seven siblings. She indicates that she was greatly influenced by Grandmother Ida Chatfield-Martinez and Grandfather William Butterfly. Lowry holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Bemidji State University and is the Director of Finance at Leech Lake Tribal Collage in Cass Lake. She is a long-time member of the Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council.

Debra Warren (Bemidji/ White Earth Ojibwe Nation) Years of AAI Service: 16

Debra Warren grew up in the town White Earth, MN on the White Earth Reservation. She is enrolled in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. She was taught by her elders, Josie Ryan taught her beadwork, leather, feather work, and shawls.  Francis Keahna taught her how to weave black ash baskets and birchbark baskets. Deb taught Ojibwe art to K-12 for ten years on the White Earth Reservation and surrounding communities. She enjoys weaving the Hopi Gods Eye and the Spiral Gods Eye. She always enjoyed using vibrant colors in her artwork when she taught Ojibwe art. She feels that if you are going to put that much effort into your work, then why not make it eye catching? Deb is a long-time member of the Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council.

Delana Smith (Red Lake/Red Lake Band of Ojibwe) Years of AAI Service: 9

Dr. Delana Smith, Red Lake Nation, has held the title, Miss Indian World 2004. She holds a doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership from St. Cloud State University, and is an Assistant Professor of Professional Education at Bemidji State University. Dr. Smith has served on Region 2 Arts Council’s Anishinaabe Arts Initiative (AAI) Council since 2012.

Mary Ringhand (Ponemah/Red Lake Band of Ojibwe) Years of AAI Service: 5

Mary Ringhand (Red Lake Band of Ojibwe) has been an arts appreciator her entire life. She is the daughter of Maguerite Frieda Ringhand and James W. Ringhand. Mary is an engaged community member, having served in an advisory capacity on a range of boards and councils in our surrounding area.  Mary appreciates art’s capacity to bring purpose and positivity to our lives. She is always ready with an engaging story about her life and many adventures or a bit of humor to share with those around her. Ringhand is a graduate of Bemidji State University. She serves as a Tribal Court Judge for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. 

David Ben White (Ponemah/Fort Peck) Years of AAI Service: 5

David Ben White (Oglala Lakota, Fort Peck), has been involved in drawing and sketching since his earliest memory while growing up in the Montana Children’s Home in Twin Bridges, Montana.  He remembers drawing the artwork for the newsletter at a very young age.  White is Oglala Lakota and an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Reservation at Wolf Point, Montana.  His interests in painting, sketching and drawing continued throughout his high school years as he entered and displayed art in his community.  He continues to daily develop his art in multimedia visual arts, including acrylic painting, pastels, sketching, cartooning, wood burning, carving, found object creations and more. 

Kent Estey (Naytahwaush/ White Earth Ojibwe Nation) Years of AAI Service: 2

Contemporary Native Artist Kent Estey (Ojibwe), is an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation of Northwestern Minnesota. His heritage includes many self-taught artists where black-ash basketry, beading, sewing and birch-bark artistry were everyday occurrences in his home. Raised in Naytahwaush, Minnesota, Kent continues his artistry while he and his wife Becky teach at the local Community Charter School.  Kent’s preferred art form is painting with oils, acrylics and inks.  His paintings reflect feelings and emotions through his use of color and movement on the canvas, and most often painted as a sky or landscape.

The Anishinaabe Arts Initiative (AAI) grants support and promote traditional and contemporary American Indian arts in the region. AAI is supported by the Region 2 Arts Council with funding from the McKnight Foundation.

The Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council (AAI) meets twice each year, typically in December and April.  AAI meetings are open to the public. Zoom links will be provided upon request when meetings are not in-person, in accordance with the guidelines of Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law. Any change in time or venue will be announced in advance and noted below.

AAI Meeting Schedule

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 (5:30 p.m.)
Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council meeting and review Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Grants for Individual Artists
In Person (Watermark Art Center)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 (5:30 p.m.)
Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Council meeting and review Anishinaabe Arts Initiative Fellowship applications
In Person (Watermark Art Center)