June 24, 2020

2020 Michigan Heritage Awardees Announced

2020 MHA awardees from left: Bill Church, Paavo Nurmi, Patricia Shackleton, and Nic Gareiss

The Michigan Traditional Arts Program of Michigan State University announces honorees in our annual program celebrating cultural heritage in Michigan: the 2020 Michigan Heritage Awards.

The Michigan Heritage Award (MHA) is the state’s highest distinction to honor individuals who continue their family, community, or cultural traditions with excellence and devotion. The awards were given out following a thorough review by an independent panel of three folklife, community arts, and cultural scholars and educators.

“The Michigan Heritage Awards are presented each year to honor master tradition bearers in Michigan who continue the folk traditions of their families and communities through practice and teaching,” explains Marsha MacDowell, Director of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program.

Receiving a 2020 Michigan Heritage award for their traditional arts achievements are:
Bill Church of Hopkins (Allegan County), for storytelling and community leadership for the Gun Lake Tribe/Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians
Nic Gareiss of Lansing (Ingham County), for percussive dance
Paavo Nurmi of Hessel (Mackinac County), for Finnish distaff carving 
Patricia Shackleton of Haslett/Sault Ste. Marie (Ingham/Chippewa Counties), for birch bark cut out work

“The attention and honor extended to these artists through the Michigan Heritage Awards are important not only to them but to all of us who cherish the state’s cultural heritage,” explains MacDowell. MHA Coordinator Micah Ling notes, “We seek nominations from around the state so that the awards continue to reflect the great diversity of skills, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds of Michiganders. It is a true delight each year to learn more about our home and its people.”

The Michigan Traditional Arts Program is a statewide program “ to advance cross-cultural understanding and equity in a diverse society through the documentation, preservation, and presentation of traditional arts, folklife, and everyday culture in Michigan.”  MTAP is headquartered at MSU’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and is supported by MATRIX: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and MSU’s Office of University Outreach and Engagement.  

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