"The Northstar Dancers were absolutely fantastic! Their energy and talent lit up the stage. I could have watched them all night."

Dave Davis
Vice President, National Productions
Oregon Public Broadcasting


Painted Sky is an organization that honors Native American culture by building awareness of traditional and contemporary musical expressions through performance and education. Painted Sky's primary goals are to engage youth in the study and performance of Native American music, dance and song; present these arts to the greater community to preserve the Native culture; engage performers and the public through a blend of traditional and contemporary cultural expressions; educate the public about the rich Native traditions; unite and inspire people despite cultural and expressive differences or barriers; and develop youth-oriented educational programs within Native Nations and for the educational system as a whole. Key strategies in this process include engaging a larger number of Native American youth, forging artistic collaborations between Native and non-Native musicians, singers and dance professionals, and performing regionally with the belief that music is the universal language, and has the power to inspire and unite across cultures.

Painted Sky began in 1995 under the direction of Mary Hager who set out to establish an organization dedicated to honoring the Native American culture through the universal language of music. Since then, Ms. Hager and Arlie Neskahi have established a broad network of support throughout the Native American community in support of traditional Native music, song and dance. Painted Sky established 501(c)(3) status in 1998, working with area dancers and artists to promote the Painted Sky mission.

In 2004, Mary Hager (founder of Northstar) and Arlie Neskahi along with Karen Kitchen and Gerry Rainningbird began recruiting Native youth to form a performing arts dance company that would study and perform Native styles of dance and music while blending performances with contemporary styles of jazz, lyric, tap and hip-hop. The Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company was established in February 2005, as well as a partnership with Demetrius Keller's Empyrean Movement Dance Company. The Northstar Dance Company and Empyrean have worked to establish high-quality, choreographed performances that engage diverse audiences.

Today, Painted Sky has an active board of directors, an active set of advisors to the board, a broad network of volunteers, and a commitment to a movement that will give a voice to Native People through music.

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