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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Heritage Awards



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David Dutcher
2016 awardee, Hessel (Mackinac County), Native American arts [appliqué beadwork, leatherwork, copper jewelry]

David Dutcher (b.1956) is a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and  an artist who works in multiple genres. He began making traditional Anishnabeg black ash baskets at age 9 with his father, Jon Roy Dutcher. David is skilled in a variety of different Eastern Woodland bead styles beyond those commonly employed by traditional Anishnabeg beadwork artists. Today, David maintains traditional Anishnabeg designs as well as developing contemporary Anishnabeg aesthetic patterns with materials traditionally used in Anishnabeg art. He incorporates custom appliqué beadwork into a variety of traditional and contemporary textile products from moccasins and breeches to laptop bags and purses. His custom stitched garments invoke colonial period aesthetics that draw viewers into sophisticated conversations on hegemonic aesthetic forms and counter-appropriation. David is at home in both these types of theoretical discussions of material culture history and in the specialized and challenging work of re-creating the materials. Many regional pow wow dancers perform regularly in moccasins, jewelry, and clothing created and or decorated by David. With hand tools, including some of his own design, he handcrafts copper jewelry.

In addition to his thriving dress and adornment art practice, David also provides a variety of arts and culture-related services for both his tribe and the community at-large. These include direct collections care for many of the most delicate items in the collections of the Tower of History Museum’s (Sault Ste. Marie) most delicate items as well as providing information on appropriate and respectful storage practices and interpretive information for items ranging from snowshoes to ceremonial rattles. He has also been a professional hairstylist and has been enlisted by community art and theater organizations to help with hair and makeup for stage productions.

For his skill in and knowledge of Native American arts, including appliqué beadwork and copper jewelry making, David Dutcher is awarded with the 2016 Michigan Heritage Award.

Compiled by Nick Schaedig with MTAP Staff, 2016

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