In what is likely the largest tribal tattoo design design contest ever held, designer Danica Bello won the $500,000 grand prize Thursday in the Design Contest of Design Inspiration, the nation’s oldest and largest design competition.
The contest began in the 1930s, and in the years since has been held annually in the cities of Minneapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Paul.
Bello, who was born in North Dakota, received a design nomination for a design that uses a geometric shape to symbolize a tribal symbol.
The design is called a “Polar Bear,” according to a design description from the contest website.
Bello said the Polar Bear symbolizes the “polar vortex,” and the phrase “Proud to be Native” was also used in the design.
“I’m very happy and excited to win this incredible prize,” Bello, a St. Anthony, Minn., native, told NBC News.
“I’m really excited about this, I have been working on this project for the last year.”
Bello is the first winner of the contest.
In her first design, which she called “a polar bear, a tribal knot, a bear, and the words ‘love,’ ‘peace,’ and ‘finally,’ she drew a circle with a triangle underneath it.
The winner of Wednesday’s design competition, which drew entries from more than 150 people, was chosen by the judges and announced on Thursday.
Bellos’ design was featured in the 2013 documentary “The Polar Bear,” which chronicles the story of Native Americans who lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for generations.
The prize for Bello’s design, she said, is worth more than $500K.
The design contest has been run since 1923.
Its inaugural winner, in 1934, was a Sioux woman named Annie Mae Johnson, who used the design to sell handmade handbags.
The designers contest is the largest design contest in the United States.
The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., is hosting a similar contest in 2019.