Red Cloud Indian School

The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School

Funding Received: 2011
Pine Ridge, SD
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 11, 2011

On October 14th, the ABC news program 20/20 aired a special featuring the Pine Ridge Reservation called “A Hidden America: Children of the Plains”. There were stories of a few children from across the reservation, highlighting struggles they faced along with some of the triumphs they made in the year and half time frame that was spent chronicling their lives. Red Cloud Indian School was fortunate to be mentioned a few times as one of the positive influences on the local community’s lives, and the response from people across the nation was incredible.

Here in the Gift Shop, we were touched by the generosity of people, looking to help the school and the community by ordering items through our online store. We had an impressive amount of orders to fill and we were busy for a whole day. Never before in our online stores had we seen a spike in sales like the one that was produced from the special. The orders also came from far and wide, an unusual occurrence. Generally our orders come from places near each other and it is not difficult to imagine someone visiting our Gift Shop in person and going home to tell their friends and family of our online store.

There were also a lot of inquiries from people looking to donate other things such as school supplies, their time and even gifts for the children at the school. These came through our online store, social networking sites, email and voicemail. Because we were mentioned very briefly it was quite amazing to see the response we received. It was a great way to start the week and we marveled at the generosity of people who were touched by the program.

We are grateful for the orders placed, especially as it is growing colder in the area and people are in need of propane to heat their homes. The Gift Shop is in a great place to help people who supplement their incomes through the sales of their art and because of the increase in sales we were able to buy more than was expected at a time when people need it the most. With winter coming and the tourist season ending we are expecting to see our sales decline as they usually do. With the television special and all of the positive effects it had for many people, we were certainly happy to see a last minute burst of activity before the holiday season.

We hope that the national attention this program has given to our organization and to The Heritage Center will continue to grow. With such a unique opportunity to hear from people on both a national and international level, we hope to continue to inspire those who we meet and to build lasting relationships with people who are interested in our culture, from our education here at the school to the artwork created by our tribal members. We also hope to not only strengthen an interest in our own traditional arts but also the arts of Native Americans throughout the country.