In this film, Tosa Two Heart (Oglala Lakota) and Bryan Parker (White Mountain Apache, Muscogee Creek, Mississippi Choctaw) discuss First Peoples Fund’s Rolling Rez Arts bus. Developed to strategically support Native artists on the large and extremely rural Pine Ridge Reservation, the bus travels across the 70,000 square miles delivering art and business services that would otherwise be inaccessible.
More than 60% of Native artists have incomes of less than $10,000 per year according to First Peoples Fund’s 2013 study. The study also found that 51% of residents rely on a home-based business for income. Of those home-based business, 79% consist of traditional art forms, proving how deeply the local economy is informed by arts. First Peoples Fund began working with Lakota Funds and the Lakota Federal Credit Union (LFCU) to develop potential solutions for supporting these artists. The very first banking institution on Pine Ridge, the LFCU opened in 2012. Blowing away 7 years’ worth of projections in their first quarter of operating, LFCU understands how much potential there is to strategically strengthen the local economy. When they first started, 60% of the local population was unbanked. Now the LFCU has more than 2,500 members, and through their partnership with the Rolling Rez Arts bus, that number continues to grow.
Representatives from the LFCU accompany the Rolling Rez Arts bus on certain days of the month to provide “banking days” during which people can open an account, take out a loan or withdraw money from an existing account. In addition to needing access to banking resources, many artists living on the rural reservation lack ways to meet buyers. The Rolling Rez Arts addresses that need too. Through a partnership with the gifts shop at The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School, the bus brings a representative from the gift shop to purchase wholesale art from communities across the reservation. This allows artists to sell more through a single transaction, rather than drive long distances for potential individual sales. This partnership puts roughly $3,000 into the local economy on a monthly basis.
The Rolling Rez Arts also provides art classes taught by local artists, allowing people to learn new art forms, inspire new styles in their existing work and strengthen their networks with one another. Teaching everything from quillwork to printmaking, parfleche work to oil pastels, the Lakota artists who teach on the bus enrich the cultural fabric of the community and help inspire new artists along the way. And with over 50% of the population being under the age of 25, there is a great deal of potential for the next generation to continue uplifting these local assets, strengthening not only the local economy, but the wellbeing of the reservation’s communities. Rolling Rez Arts puts the focus on making a living, as well as making art. It's a simple idea, using a converted airport shuttle bus as a means to support and celebrate Indigenous artists.
Every culture has stories, art and ways of expressing themselves, and through the Rolling Rez Arts bus, the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation have a resource to support the work that tells who they are as a nation of people, share their history and build their future.
What Tosa Two Heart had to say about DIYdoc:
“DIYdoc was really fun and easy to use. The video we made was awesome and I'd love to use the app for future projects."
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Creativity Lives Here is a year-long digital storytelling campaign to showcase the people and places behind creative community development. #CreativityLivesHere is a collection of grassroots video stories from amazing artists, community planners, local leaders, and allies, who are sharing the ideas, challenges, and inspirations that drive their work every day.
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