Lakota Hope has been working with Lakota artists and crafters longer than we’ve been called "Lakota Hope." The there is some amazing talent on the reservation and there is rich tradition and meaning in Lakota art. However, Pine Ridge is isolated from the broader market the point where top-notch artists have to settle for really low prices.
Getting out of that grant seemed like a horrible thing at the time, but in the end getting out of that grant was just the thing we needed to move into the next stage: Artist leadership. When you have a grant, it dictates what you spend your time on and the grant and those administering it direct the program. Now the artists lead the program. The artists have renamed their group to Lakota Oyate Artisans. We have a new mission statement:
“We are a group of working artists and crafters, empowering the people through the arts to become economically independent from any government. We are dedicated to promoting and most importantly preserving Lakota arts and crafts for our future generations.”
Joe Pulliam created a new logo for our group where he painted a buffalo symbolizing economic prosperity on ledger paper which points to the resilience of Lakota arts and culture through times of struggle.
The main function of the group is to get Lakota art out in front of more people. We’ve done this in a few ways. We put on our own event called Night of Another Hope on Tuesday nights where artist pay a small amount to set up. Then we have a community meal, some worship time, and a message shared b y a Lakota pastor. Usually we have about 150-200 people attend most come from NextStep a short-term mission trip hosting organization, some come from other outside groups, and the remainder are community members and artists.
We are also starting to do more large events. We set up at the Oglala Nation Pow Wow. The spot would have cost each artist $500 plus the costs of canopies and tables chairs and lighting, but as a group we were able to do some fundraising and cost sharing to get each artist into the pow wow for $60-$95 each depending on whether they wanted an extra table. We have already begun the planning process to set up at the Buffalo Roundup.
We also have started an Etsy store as a group. Many artist don’t have bank accounts and therefore can’t sell through online stores. Also, shipping can be a hassle, but by centralizing the store we make the fulfillment fast and easy. The things that we've put on the store have sold very quickly!
It’s been awesome to see how each member of the group has chipped in to make all this possible. We’ve had several run fundraisers for the group by selling fry bread and wojapi. Others have volunteered time by helping with setup and take down for events. We’ve had some bring food to events to help others eat healthier and save money. We had a whole bunch donate art for a fundraising raffle. Lakota Oyate Artisans is not just a bunch of artists who are out to make a better living: Lakota Oyate Artisans shows the power of a community built on respect and generosity.
If you want be a part of the great work that they are doing, support their work by buying from our Etsy store. Or you can donate directly through using the button below.