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New art center gives Tribal youth a place to ‘stand up’ for their future

March 11, 2011

WünüT Novi is a group, and now also a media-arts center that offers area youths and young adults a place to have fun and explore their creative sides. The group was formed as a response to escalating drug and alcohol fueled violence among area youth. Photo courtesy WünüT Novi

The Bishop Paiute Reservation has a new place for all youths, teens and young adults to “wünüt” or “stand up” – be creative, constructive and learn skills they will take with them for the rest for their lives.
The WünüT Novi Youth Media Arts and Infoshop was born out of the loss of young people to violence and drugs and alcohol. Still in its infancy, the program is seeking more volunteers and donations that will allow the center to stay open longer and offer more to the community.
One of the program’s organizers, Kathy Chandler, said Thursday that the center is hoped to be a positive place where youths and young adults can congregate.
WüNüT Novi was created as a response to the escalation of youth violence and drug and alcohol abuse on the Reservation. The organization was founded in November 2009 after two separate tragedies that impacted Tribal members both near and far.
Initially, the group consisted of concerned parents, tribal and community members that met regularly to try and organize positive events and activities for local youths. In the early days, Wünüt Novi held Indian taco fundraisers, presented movies and sponsored lectures and other organized events like a clean-up of the Bishop Paiute Cemetery.
In 2010 the group was given permission to begin using the old Elders Building on Diaz Lane.
WünüT Novi is also responsible for bringing together the Bishop Tribal Youth Council, complete with bylaws and a constitution written by local youths and program advisors. According to Chandler, the Youth Council is in the middle of its first round of nominations. The council is open to Native American youths ages 13-23.
WünüT Novi will also be open to the community for various events, classes, workshops, meetings and art projects, with access to multimedia and educational resources and creative collaboration.
Services and resources to be provided at WüNüT Novi include access to alternative independent media and magazines as well as local CDs and DVDs; a lending library; performance space and workshops; a community/youth radio station; film screenings; do-it-yourself art projects and studio space; discussion groups; meeting and event space for other organizations; market space for local artists and musicians to showcase and sell their crafts; wellness classes and activities; and, digital media projects and workshops (e.g., film/video, photography and music).
One of the center’s organizers, Kris Hohag, said he’s excited about the radio station and is sure it will be a success – given the right amount of support and know-how.
“We welcome all who have knowledge and skills and resources to help us make it happen. I’m far from an expert on what it takes to get it (the radio station) moving, so this is definitely a team effort,” Hohag said. “It is a long overdue idea, though, whose time has come. There is a lot of encouragement behind a community radio station on the Reservation, and I think we’re in a good position to make it happen, given the support we can receive.”
WünüT Novi is fully volunteer- and donation-driven. The center will soon be offering a class for those wishing to volunteer. Chandler said the group is looking for additional volunteers in order expand the center’s hours of operation. Currently the center is open from 4-8 p.m. on Sundays.
WünüT Novi is also seeking volunteers to fill key positions, such as a public relations/spokesperson, volunteer /outreach coordinator, marketing coordinator, multi-media coordinator, cultural coordinator, handy man or woman, fundraising guru and a financial advisor.
The center is also in need of several items such as a large commercial refrigerator for meals and fundraising projects, a printer/copier, cookware and other kitchen items, computers, multi-media equipment, pool tables, and musical instruments of all kinds, including a drum set.
The meetings for volunteers will be held at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23 at the center located at 2490 Diaz Ln. The election for the Youth Council will be held March 27. Those wishing to be a part of the council or run for office or donate or seek more information can call Chandler at (760) 937-0573 or Hohag at (760) 920-3389.

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