Artists North, a newly established nonprofit arts organization serving Northern Michigan, is opening its 2017 lecture series, The Positive Power of the Arts, with a special event on Thursday, August 3, at 7:30 p.m., in the gallery of Glass Lakes Photography (324 E. Lake Street, Petoskey).

Award-winning photojournalist, Ryan Spencer Reed, will be joined on stage by Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan, to talk about the potential power of the arts to inspire members of a free society to take action on their own behalf. “From my perspective, the arts are the hammer Pete Seeger sang about in the late fifties,” says Artists North President, Dale Hull. “I’m looking forward to what Ryan and Frank have to say about the impact the arts have on the social issues we wrestle with now, every day.”

Tickets are on sale today, both at Glass Lakes Photography and online at According to the event’s host, Joe Clark of Glass Lakes Photography, “We have limited seating so I suggest you get your tickets as soon as possible.”

Ryan Spencer Reed honed his skills as a photographer working with his father and brother at Todd & Brad Reed Photography of Ludington, but in 2002, Ryan began to focus his personal skills on photojournalism. Ryan documented the Sudanese Diaspora, entering South Sudan and Darfur to photograph the struggles suffered by refugees fleeing to Eastern Chad and Kenya. The images he captured speak volumes about humanity’s capacity for cruelty.

Next Ryan devoted himself to telling the story of soldiers at war. “As an embedded storyteller, I accompanied the modern incarnation of the Band of Brothers through over two years of training, a deployment to Afghanistan and our return home. “My traveling show is the result of an effort to tell the story of one of the last units to deploy to a combat mission in Afghanistan, ending the longest running war in US history: Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Ryan’s most recent interest led him to document the conflicts, both physically and intellectually, inherent in the Standing Rock conflict. “Our audience will learn a great deal from what Ryan has experienced there,” says Frank Ettawageshik, Ryan’s partner on stage.

Frank Ettawageshik lives in Harbor Springs. He is an artist—a writer, a traditional storyteller and a potter—believing that native people need to be rooted in their traditions in order to be prepared for the future. In Frank’s view of the world, the arts not only reflect our culture over time but also form the basis for decision-making destined to shape our future. Frank’s recent experiences in trying to shape our collective future are impressive.

He served 14 years as the Tribal Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. During his tenure as Tribal Chairman Frank was instrumental in the adoption of the Tribal and First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord in 2004, and the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty, in 2007.

Frank is now serving as the executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan and as Chairman of the United League of Indigenous Nations Governing Board as well as the co-chair of the National Congress of American Indians Federal Recognition Task Force.

In December 2015, Frank Ettawageshik attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Council of the Parties 21 (UNFCCC COP21) in Paris as a delegate from the National Congress of American Indians.

Frank Ettawageshik and Ryan Reed will concentrate on the role of the arts, not only as a tool for understanding our collective cultural past but also for shaping our future.

—Press release provided by Artists North

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Photo(s) by Ryan Spencer Reed