One of the newest recipients of a Bush Fellowship plans to open an art center for youth on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.
Tami Jollie-Trottier anticipates opening the facility this summer in the Jollie Mall, a building owned by her parents in Belcourt.
“It’s going to be focused on the youth and looking at enhancing cultural identity,” she said.
The Bush Foundation selected Jollie-Trottier this year as one of 24 fellows from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Each fellow receives up to $100,000 over two years to pursue activities that promote leadership.
Since her daughter was born five years ago, Jollie-Trottier has focused on writing and painting as a way of healing from a traumatic experience during childbirth.
“I needed to get these images out on paper because they were coming in picture form into my head,” she said.
She began with oil and pastels, then took a beading workshop.
“Beading is very time consuming, and it’s a very good form of healing,” she said. “It wasn’t allowing me to get my images out fast enough, so I turned to painting.”
Her preferred materials are acrylic and water color.
Jollie-Trottier is a psychologist, but she said she is not an art therapist. Nevertheless, she aims to share the healing she has experienced by encouraging youth to try art.
She plans to bring in elders to work with youth so the two generations can learn from each other.
An enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Jollie-Trottier said her pictures contain meanings and can teach the viewer about her culture.
She anticipates providing art supplies with her fellowship money and inviting artists to lead classes on techniques such as basket making. She also hopes to start a poetry night for youth.
Jollie-Trottier recently left her job as a hospital psychologist to start a private practice. She will work there part time in the same building as the art center. When she is at the art center, she said she will have an open door policy so youth can stop in to work or watch her paint.
She said she plans to partner with the local Boys and Girls Club, church groups, tribal arts organization and schools to host events.
Upon hearing news that she was selected as a fellow, she said she began to cry tears of happiness and hugged her daughter. She had already left her job at the hospital, hoping for the fellowship as she started on her private practice.
“This was a huge leap of faith for me,” she said.