by Stevee Chapman
|Michael Holloman, DirectorPlateau Center for American Indian Studies|
As Director of the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies at Washington State University, Michael Holloman’s main role is acting as the key academic liaison for the university’s Native American curriculum and research. In addition to the administrative aspect of the Plateau Center, Holloman is an Associate Professor in the Fine Arts Department teaching electives courses in the American Indian Studies Minor/Certificate.
Holloman completed his bachelor’s degree in fine arts between the University of Oregon and Evergreen State College. Later, he attended Gonzaga University where he earned a master’s of art teaching, and finally went on to Washington State University to complete a master’s of fine arts in drawing and painting.
“I was involved in the visual arts from the time I was a young boy and never lost the passion,” Holloman said.
A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Holloman says it was the strength of his parents, and great high school teachers that encouraged him to pursue a higher education.
Holloman teaches two classes within the American Indian studies program. His first, Fine Arts 301, focuses on giving students a comprehensive study of Native American Artwork which reflects the diversity of tribal groups across North America. His other class, Fine Arts 404 Non-Western Art History, focuses on contemporary Native American artwork.
WSU’s American Indian Studies Program offers minor and certificate programs. The benefits of pursuing a minor in American Indian Studies are two-fold, said Holloman; it is empowering to Native students and broadens non-native students’ perception of the world.
“This offers a unique place for Native students to expand upon their cultural interests, as well as strengthen their academic abilities while engaging in meaningful curricula,” Holloman said. “For non-native students it can be a window into a world that is not often presented adequately in academic course offerings whether it be history, arts or culture.”
Holloman pointed out that there are a multitude of majors that would pair well with the curriculum, for example business.
“Such knowledge base can be beneficial if students find themselves later interested in working for tribal communities or enterprises," Holloman said.
Gaining a better understanding of who we are as a nation, provides students with a better opportunity to define who they want to be in their future, added Holloman.
In addition to his roles at WSU, Holloman is also Director of American Indian Programming at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) in Spokane. Holloman oversees the museum’s American Indian collection, exhibits and educational programming.
“I work closely with the museum’s American Indian Culture Council and its CEO to ensure that appropriate culture content and care is applied when working with their remarkable material collection,” Holloman said.
Recently Holloman said that he has been involved in working with a formal partnership between WSU and the MAC on the Plateau Peoples Web Portal, a website that serves to preserve and share cultural materials of the Plateau tribes. Holloman said that the portal just received a prominent NEH grant to utilize the Plateau Indian Collections at the MAC.
For those who may be interested, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture opened a new exhibit on November 18th, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warriors: Photographs by Gertrude Kasebier.
There is also an ongoing exhibit, Lasting Heritage: The Plateau and the Great Basin.