Rolling Arts at Pine Ridge
With his horses foaling, Tony Richards, 63, said that he would not have had time to make the hourlong drive from his corner of the sprawling Pine Ridge Reservation to the Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School to sell jewelry to its gift shop, which has emerged as an important supporter of the reservationâs Lakota artists.
But last week, the gift shop came to him â on board Rolling Rez Arts, an airport shuttle bus that has been transformed into a mobile art classroom and credit union office. âBuying Art Today,â read a whiteboard outside the bus, which was parked in the community of Martin.
Mr. Richards took a wooden jewelry case from his car and got on board. Carmen Little Iron, the gift shopâs manager, checked his tribal identification card to comply with federal laws governing the sale of native arts â his was from the Oglala Sioux â and bought several of his finely wrought bone chokers, beaded cross necklaces and earrings.
âA lot of people donât have vehicles, so this is good that they do it this way,â said Mr. Richards, who heard on KILI, the reservationâs radio station, that the buyers were coming to his district. âIâve got 18 horses I take care of, and right now theyâre foaling, so I have colts out there Iâve got to watch, because weâve got mountain lions and coyotes. A lot of times I didnât have time to go over there.â
The idea for the Rolling Rez came from a recent study that found that more than half of native households on the reservation, one of the poorest parts of the nation, are engaged in a home-based business, and 79 percent of those produce some kind of art â but that most of the artists earned less than $10,000 a year and lacked cars, training and ways to meet buyers.
âSo we had a conversation about doing something on wheels â with access to markets and access to supplies,â said Lori Pourier, the president of First Peoples Fund, a group that supports indigenous artists. It joined other groups to create the Rolling Rez, which received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts this year. It offered more than 50 classes in art and entrepreneurship last year, mostly on Pine Ridge, but also on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations.
Rapid Cityâs Community Hub
The Dahl Arts Center, which was built in 1974 and given to the city by a prominent local banker, is famous for its 180-foot cyclorama telling the economic history of the United States. But the Dahl, managed by the Rapid City Arts Council, has transformed itself in recent years â undergoing a…