Martin Roundstone, a Dhillon School of Business student majoring in Indigenous Governance and Business Management, is the 2024 winner of the Spirit Prize, an award for emerging Indigenous visual artists.

The Spirit Prize supports student artists as they develop their careers and advance their artistic practices. Alumnus and University of Lethbridge chancellor Terry Whitehead (BA '94) generously created and supports the Spirit Prize, now in its third year at ULethbridge.

As part of the Spirit Prize, Martin receives $2,500 to invest in his art practice. As he makes plans for the award, Martin speaks about his art and inspiration.

Martin Roundstone working on a deer hide.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Martin Roundstone and I’m currently in my fourth year of the Indigenous Governance and Business Management program at ULethbridge. I’m also a member of the Blood Tribe of southern Alberta and a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana. I’m somewhat of a reserved and shy fellow, but I’ve been told I’m worth keeping around, especially once you get to know me.

Tell us about your artistic practice. What does it encompass and what does it represent?

My artistic practice mostly focuses on traditional material culture and the traditional methods of making that material culture. I essentially make things from Blackfoot and Cheyenne culture like how they would have back during the buffalo days. I love tanning hides and taking time to go out find materials to use in my art. Everything from bags to robes to bows and quivers can be made from materials you can find out in the wilderness.

What inspired you to apply for the Spirit Prize?

The inspiration behind my applying to the Spirit prize was actually because it was an assignment for me to apply to it, and after that my inspiration was just to apply and see if I could get it.

What was your reaction when you found out you had won?

I was quite surprised to be honest. I really wasn’t expecting to get it, but now that I have, I feel immense gratitude to the people who took the time to review my application and found it worthy of being awarded the prize.

What work will you be doing as part of the Prize?

I will mainly be working on tanning some hides and gathering some other materials I need for this project, and that includes buying some beads, getting some real sinew, and drafting a final design that will be painted onto a buffalo robe. I also want to practice a bit more with the hide painting since I’m doing it in a more traditional way, by using hide glue and pigments.

What does winning the Spirit Prize mean to you? How will this support help you with your artistic practice?

Winning the prize means that I have now an opportunity to give back to the mentors who have taught me so much and to my communities I’m a member of.

I will also take this as an opportunity to be able to challenge myself, to be able to take my artistic practice and take it to the next level as I hope to one day soon be able to teach members from my respective nations how they too can make the stuff I make. 

Anything else you would like to say?

I want to thank the Spirit Prize judges for selecting my project as the one to be worthy of the prize and to ULethbridge for their awesome work in supporting Indigenous students, which includes myself, in our post-secondary and creative journeys.

I also just want to shout out my mom, hi mom.