Storyteller, artist featured at openingNakoma Volkman uses all of his talents — as artist, speaker, writer and storyteller, singer and dancer — for a single purpose: to promote “the good old ways, good values, appreciation and respect for nature.”
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Nakoma Volkman uses all of his talents — as artist, speaker, writer and storyteller, singer and dancer — for a single purpose: to promote “the good old ways, good values, appreciation and respect for nature.”
When the “Visions and Viewpoints” exhibit opens May 5 at the Red Wing Arts Association’s Depot Gallery, all of those talents will be on display.
Wearing traditional regalia, Nakoma will open the show at 1 p.m. telling stories as people arrive to see the creative work of a dozen Native American artists — including his artwork.
Nakoma, who has ties to both the Ojibwe and the Dakota, brings unique international experiences to his art.
He was educated in social service administration and security management and served in the Peace Corps in the 1960s, traveling to Bolivia.
Noting that Amazon tribes were in the path of colonization, Nakoma said, he established and maintained contact with those natives for two years, fearing their exposure to violence and mistreatment. Later he worked as a program director for the Peace Corps in Venezuela.
Back in the U.S., Nakoma worked as program director for Chicago’s War on Poverty and a youth street gangs worker controlling violence. He relocated to Rochester in 1982, becoming security director for Kahler Corp. until retiring in 1997.
At the same time, he said, “I was always an artist.”
He and his wife, Kati, travel nationwide as vendors of their authentic arts and crafts at pow wows, where he frequently serves as a master of ceremonies. They have participated in the Prairie Island Wacipi for many years, but after nearly a half-century together on the road, he said, they will be cutting back on the travel.
A founder of the Native American Center of Southeast Minnesota, Nakoma is a retired chairman and leader of its Bear Creek Singers and Dancers. He lectures extensively as universities and colleges, churches and historical events.
His visual art creations are primarily pencil, pen and ink, pastel chalk or acrylic works on Native American and nature themes, with an emphasis on spirituality and the virtues of “the Good Red Road pathway.” Nakoma’s contributions to the exhibit will include two portraits, of Red Bear and Ten Charges, and a limited edition pen-pencil-ink piece called “Mother Earth Spirituality.” Like many of his works, it includes some self-composed verses.
In addition, he has updated a map titled “Native American Tribes of North America, Central America and The Carribean,” which places almost 600 tribes in their original, historic locations. Prints will be available for purchase.