Northwest Star Award Presented to Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad

Northwest Star Award Winner is Donald Kakaygeesick

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NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad has been selected as the 2021 Northwest Minnesota Star Artist of the Year for his lifetime achievement in art. Kakaygeesick received his award at a program in Warroad on August 26.

Donald has had a long history of representing Warroad and Roseau County in the arts field. He was born in 1959 and comes from a long line of Ojibwe artisans and a well-known family of artists along with his brothers Robert, John and his sister Karen. The Kakaygeesick name is synonymous with Warroad history, culture and art. In high school, Donald designed the Warroad Warrior logo for the public school. He has experience with many mediums including acrylic, oils, watercolor, and carving.

According to Warroad teacher and NWMAC Board Member Jaimie Snowdon, “Not only has Donald contributed to the world of art but he has also been a leader and teacher in the Ojibwe culture and history. These skills were taught to him by his father, mother and elders in the Warroad community. Donald has spent his life passing on the traditions of making wigwams, teepees, how to process wild rice, drumming, dancing and sweat lodge ceremonies to name a few. In all of these activities, art is intertwined. With the passing of his brother Robert last fall, Donald is stepping into that elder role for Warroad and the whole region.”

Donald’s art can be viewed at the Warroad Library and Museum. He paints in the well-known Indigenous style called, “Woodland School of Art.” This visionary style emphasizes outlines and X-ray views of people, animals, and plant life. 

Asked about the impact of art, Kakaygeesick said, “You can make a big impact with your art. Artwork can bring change. If you have the talent, you can make changes in everything.” As for advice for aspiring artists, he shared, “Learn your skills. No one will be perfect. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. You might think it’s trash, but sometimes you find out that everyone else loves it.”

Henry Boucha shared, “I would like to thank the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council for recognizing one of our Indigenous peoples for this outstanding NW Star award. I congratulate my cousin Donald KaKayGeesick with this Lifetime Achievement Award and his dedication to the Anishinaabe/Ojibwa culture and traditions of our people.  As long as I can remember, The KaKayGeesick Family, our Guides and Medicine people, have stood strong traditionally, and culturally through the assimilation of our people. The degradation of the Anishinaabe society, and our way of life on Lake of the Woods. Experiencing racism, prejudice, and discrimination throughout their lifetime, they have maintained our language, culture and traditions whereas most of us assimilated and left our traditions and culture behind. Amazingly, when we were ready to come home, they were there to greet us and teach us what they knew. AHO!

The Northwest Star Artist Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. Of the Year Award winners are nominated by area residents. This award comes with $5,000. Artists can only receive our Northwest Star Award once, as a lifetime achievement award. Funding for the Northwest Star comes from the McKnight Foundation.  

Congratulations Donald Kakaygeesick on winning the Northwest Star Award!

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Arts Advocate Ann Novacek, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, and NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick

Artist Advocate of the Year Ann Novacek, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick at the NWMAC Awards Presentation in Warroad.