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2023 Anishinaabe Art Festival:  A Celebration Of Indigenous Art

Bemidji, MN - July 21-22, 2023


Concept and Goals

The Festival will celebrate the richness of Anishinaabe history, culture, and people. Ultimately, the Festival seeks to build intercultural knowledge and respect for diversity in the region through craft, visual arts, dance, food, storytelling, and fashion.


In 2019, 4-Directions Development, Leech Lake Financial Services, and Gizhiigin Arts Incubator met with representatives from the American Indian art community, regional arts organizations, and the City of Bemidji to discuss ways of using the arts as an economic and community development vehicle. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant program we have the opportunity to integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen our communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes.



We'd love to work with you to help share our story. If you're a member of the media and would like to talk, please get in touch with:

Sharon James
Executive Director 
4-Directions Development


Or send an email to:

Media Contact


The Anishinaabe Art Festival and creative business development initiative is a creative placemaking opportunity to support art businesses and celebrate the rich Anishinaabeg history and culture of the region. The three tribes of Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth and the City of Bemidji have joined together to create pathways for more inclusion of Indigenous artists, create access to high-value markets, and to create an exchange of cultural knowledge.


  1. To provide artist training and business support to participate with more art events off the Reservation to expand their market reach and increase visibility of Ojibwe art and culture in the region.

  2. To create intercultural knowledge, and reduce stereotyping and racism, while creating economic opportunity.

  3. To establish an art festival that presents quality Indigenous art work.


Press Releases
Mission Statement
Festival Itinerary


DAY ONE Activities

Friday, July 21, 2023

Doors Open @ 11 a.m.

DAY TWO Activities

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Doors Open @ 9 a.m.

9 am: Vendor Booths Open

  • Workshops

  • Demonstrations

  • MC Announcements

11 am - 1 pm: "Traditional Flavors" Tasting Tables

1-3 pm: Stage Entertainment

  • Dance Styles

  • Singing

  • Teachings

  • Other Performers

3-4 pm: Children's Art Session

4-5 pm: Literary Arts
5-6 pm: Closing Ceremony

11 am: Festival Opening Ceremony

  • Invocation

  • Welcome

  • Sponsors

  • Ribbon Cutting

Noon: Festival Opens

  • Vendor Booths Open

  • Workshops

  • Demonstrations

  • MC Announcements

4:30-6:30 pm: "Traditional Flavors" Tasting Tables

6:30 pm: Fashion Show Seating

7-9 p.m. Fashion Show with Traditional Tea Bar


Nate Mathews
Bemidji City Manager

This is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the artistic heritage of the Anishinaabe community, while also providing an outlet for artists to gain exposure and develop their art.


Sharon James, Executive Director
4-Directions Development

Our artists are so important to our Reservation economies and are capable of adding tremendous value to the Bemidji and regional economies. We need to support them as we would any other business.



1111 Event Center Drive NE

Bemidji, MN 56601


The Sanford Center is the largest event center in the northern Minnesota region and has hosted legendary performers including Brad Paisley, Disney Live, Luke Bryan, and Alice Cooper, just to name a few. In addition, the arena is connected to the Country Inn and Suites as well as their restaurant. The Sanford Center is known for its incredible entertainment and a facility that welcomes all ages.

A Little About Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji Minnesota, where the mighty Mississippi River meets its first city, is a regional center for shopping, arts, entertainment, education, health services, worship, and government services.Located in the north-central region of Minnesota, Bemidji is easily accessible from major urban centers (Duluth, MN, Grand Forks, ND, & Fargo, ND) within a 2.5hr driving time. With a city population of 14,301, it is the largest commercial center between Grand Forks, North Dakota and Duluth, Minnesota.

The Bemidji Area includes parts or all of Beltrami County, Hubbard County, Cass County, and more putting the Bemidji Area population at 131,553 with-in a 60-mile radius.In addition, Bemidji is home to Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College, Oak Hills Christian College, with over 5,000 additional students living in town during the school year. Bemidji is also a major shopping hub for the 3 neighboring Anishinaabe Tribes of Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth Nations.

When settler-colonists arrived in the area in 1888, Shaynowishkung told them the name of the lake: Bemijigamaag, an Ojibwe word that means “water running crosswise through the lake.” They misunderstood, however, and thought he was giving them his own name. As a result, they called him Chief Bemidji, and some sources state that later on they named the city of Bemidji after him. He was a beloved figure among Ojibwe people and settlers, known for being a peacemaker who brought cultures together.

Known as the birth-place/home of logging legend “Paul Bunyan”, Bemidji is noted as the “curling capital” of the United States and home to a world-class fishing tourism industry with over 400 lakes in a 25-mile radius, making it a year-round destination for fishing.

Minnesota Facts & Figures

The name "Minnesota" comes from Dakota Indian words meaning "sky-tinted waters" or "sky-blue waters."

For more fun facts about the state of Minnesota go to:


in Smithsonian Magazine!

"The 15 Best Small Towns to visit in 2022"

Bemidji, Minnesota was named one of

Festival Venue
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