Renowned Native American artist and UAFS alumnus Jay Benham will present artistic works and discuss the history of Kiowa religious tradition and governmental policies at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Smith Pendergraft Campus Center Room 129AB. 

The event, titled “U.S. Government Policies on Native American Religion and Art,” is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

Benham is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma whose art is deeply influenced by his heritage. His work is displayed across the country and has been featured in galleries in Sedona, Ariz., Santa Fe, N.M., and Oklahoma City. Locally, Benham works as a museum educator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

The event is hosted by the UAFS Baha'i Club and Culture Net.  

“This talk is so relevant to the area we live in and to the population of this area, many of whom have some Native American heritage,” Baha’i Club President Sydney Brannan explained. “This presentation will delve deeper into the influences behind Native American religion and art.”

“In Baha'i writings, there is a call to appreciate Native American traditions: 'Attach great importance to the indigenous population of America. For … there can be no doubt that they will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world,’” explained Dr. Mary A. Sobhani, head of the UAFS World Languages Department. “By sponsoring Mr. Benham on our campus, the club recognizes the importance of Native American culture, including art and traditions of faith.  Along with Culture Net, Baha'i Club members wanted to create a space to learn from some of the wisdom of the Kiowa Tribe and to further our own understanding of the policies of the American government and its relationship with indigenous communities that have led us to where we are.”

For more information contact Brannan at

Rachel Rodemann Putman, Interim Director of Public Information
Photo Credits: 
Sydney Brannan
Date Posted: 
Monday, April 8, 2019
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