Creating art in the face of grief can be complicated and hard to navigate, especially when the grief feels both private and personal—and a part of a much larger epidemic, like the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis. 

Both Bobby Brower (Iñupiaq) and Tara Trudell (Santee Sioux/Rarámuri/Mexican/Spanish) found their way into speaking about the MMIP crisis through clothing and adornment that are linked to a long history of protection, prayer, and collaboration. 

On this episode of Encounter Culture, Brower and Trudell talk with host Emily Withnall about creating Native Alaskan atikluks and creating beads out of paper, respectively, and the reason it is so important to do this work in community. 

Brower is a fashion designer whose work has been featured on the TV series Alaska Daily and in New York Fashion Week, among others. 

“Even talking about the issue is hard and even when there’s, you know, the days that commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, like, there’s all those walks or there’s everything shared online, and for me it’s really hard for me to participate in those just ’cause I was affected so much,” says Brower. “And it hurts so bad that it’s hard to like get out when—and I know we’re supposed to be honoring them—but I felt like with the exhibit it was easier to honor my sister and honor all those others that, being in a group, it was easy for us to talk and just help each other and heal.”

Trudell is a multi-media artist working in fabric, paper, photography, and film, among other mediums. 

“I can make my own regalia. I can represent and protect my spirit, but I’m making it out of like these documents and these statements and these stories,” says Trudell. “Because it’s like we’re all familiar with the same thing that happens to women around the world. It’s not just one particular group. It’s all of us.” 

For both women, the art cannot exist without community, and it is in community that important stories and information can be shared and held. 


Museum of International Folk Art
Bunnell Street Center Arts Center
Alaska Daily (TV series)
Tower Gallery
Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act

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Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Hosted by Emily Withnall, editor at El Palacio Magazine
Executive Producer: Daniel Zillmann
Technical Director & Post-Production Audio: Edwin R. Rui
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Editor & Production Manager: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava

Special music in this episode: “Kinship Honor – K’é Biyiin,” written by Herman Cody & Radmilla Cody, performed by Radmilla Cody. Courtesy Canyon Records. Also, “Mother’s Words – Amá Bizaad,” written by Herman Cody & Radmilla Cody, performed by Radmilla Cody, courtesy Canyon Records. 

Instagram: @newmexicanculture and @elpalaciomagazine

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