Jessa Rae Growing Thunder is Sisituwan/Wahpetuwan Dakota and Wadobana Tuwa Nakoda from the Fort Peck Reservation. She is a third-generation traditional beadwork and quillworker whom has shown her work in in the traveling exhibitions, Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses, and Grand Procession: A Collection of Contemporary Native American Soft Sculpture. In 2012-2013, Jessa Rae served as Miss Indian World in which she served as a cultural ambassador. She has worked as a State Department Liaison twice, once on a tour to Ecuador in 2014, and a second time in 2018 on a tour of Saudi Arabia. Jessa Rae is a Ph.D. Candidate in Native American Studies at University of California, Davis. Her research is rooted in the practice of history as an Indigenous tradition of Dakota/Nakoda peoples by applying both recognized (archival and oral history) and traditional creative forms of knowledge transmission through analyzing beadwork as living testimony to Fort Peck history.
Story & photos by Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers.
Ungelbah (Ungie) is an award winning Diné writer & photographer, and IAIA alumnus.