Cannupahanska’s story is the story of his people. They are the same.
Born Cannupa Hanska Luger in Fort Yates, N. Dak., on the Standing Rock Reservation - home to the Hunkpapa Lakota - his first name was broken up to fit the birth certificate, and he inherited the last name Luger. He is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, located on the upper Missouri River, and his family owns land and participates in the community in an area known as Lucky Mound. His lineage is Norwegian, German, Lakota, MHA Nation, possibly even French and Italian on his father’s side, and he has lived in Phoenix; Olympia, Wash.; Seattle and Santa Fe.
He has been a slam poet, an MC and a street artist. Among other young and innovative Native artists in Santa Fe, the 33-year-old is one of the more outspoken about the limitations of what Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ outgoing executive director Bruce Bernstein refers to as the “Native box,” or the tendency to group all Native artists together under a set of formal and cultural obligations—from the materials and methods used to make art to the corresponding themes and narratives.