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Ramp It Up’ Brings Skateboarding To The Museum Of Man

The 4-Wheel War Pony skate team. From left to right, Armonyo Hume, Jess Micha...

Credit: Courtesy Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo)

Above: The 4-Wheel War Pony skate team. From left to right, Armonyo Hume, Jess Michael Smith, Aloysius Henry, Ronnie Altaha and Lee Nash. The team was founded by award-winning filmmaker Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), who got his start making skateboarding videos in Arizona.

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Skateboard culture is more than a piece of wood with wheels on it. The creativity and daring of skateboarding has given birth to a whole artistic aesthetic, inspiring graphic artists, musicians, filmmakers and photographers. And both the sport and culture of skateboarding are also inspiring many youth within Native American communities.

From the annual All Nations Skate Jam skateboarding contest to the growth of Native-owned skateboarding companies and the building of skate parks on reservations, skateboarding has taken off within Native communities. And a new traveling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian showcases and celebrates the art, style and craft of Native American skateboarders.

"Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America" on view now at the San Diego Museum of Man, features photos and videos of Native American skaters, over 20 skate decks created by Native artists and a half pipe mini ramp for the public to spin their wheels.

KPBS Midday Edition speaks with exhibition curator Betsy Gordon, project manager at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and Kilma Lattin, of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, about the popularity of skateboarding within Native American communities across the country.

"Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America" runs now through September 9 at the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park.


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