Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards

To Honor the Cultures of Arizona Native American Tribes

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Michael Chiago, Sr.


Michael Chiago, Sr., was born in a 1946 in Kohate Village, Arizona, of Tohono O’odham (Papago), Pima, and Maricopa lineage. He has been a full-time painter of the relatively unknown everyday and ceremonial life of his people since 1970, working in acrylic and watercolors. His strong sense of identity and pride in his culture contributes to his ability to engage viewers in a rich visual experience. Familiar desert and village scenes are featured in his paintings which teach viewers about clothing and accurate basketry and pottery designs. Michael is a regular exhibitor at Santa Fe and Pueblo Grande Indian Market, Heard Museum Fair, and the Arizona State Museum of the Southwest Indian. He has illustrated many publications such as Southwest Indian Ceremonial Dances and Southwest Indian Crafts and in 1997, the children’s book, “Sing Down the Rain”. He has produced commissioned murals for the Phoenix Arts Commission, Sky Harbor International Airport, Sacaton Memorial Hospital, and public schools throughout Arizona, and the Arizona Governor’s Inaugural Poster in 1991. Michael’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Man in London where he was artist in residence, the Historical Society Museum in New York, and the West Fest Art Exhibition in Houston. He also was the “Honored Artist” for the 2005 Pueblo Grande Museum Indian Market, Phoenix, Arizona, has won 11 Best of Shows, and has illustrated for Time-Life magazines and Reader’s Digest.

Tohono O'odham

Previous AILTA Recipients

Malinda Powskey
Craft: language master, Storyteller
Tribe: Hualapai
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With your gift, The AILTA organization will continue our work to honor the lifetime achievements of Arizona American Indian traditional artists, teachers, cultural and language preservationists.
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