That circle-thinking model translated into a foundation for the idea behind Lakota Funds. Visionary leaders in the community realized that in order to break the cycle of poverty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, they needed to focus on key roadblocks to economic development: access to capital, technical assistance, business networks, and infrastructure. With assistance from Oglala Lakota College and First Nations Development Institute, Lakota Funds was established in 1986 as the first-ever Native American community development financial institution (CDFI) on a reservation. They began work to break through the roadblocks.
A colorful bus roams the remote and vast landscape, a vehicle in search of ways to bring economic and social change to Native artists where they live and work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. These artists have six needs, needs that are steadily being helped by our Rolling Rez Arts Mobile Unit. Native art is key to sustaining culture at the community level, though these artists are often overlooked.
Nothing like it in the Indian art world. Wade Patton (Oglala Lakota) is establishing a style of his own, his voice that he found after leaving home. Working in Boston doing high-end framing, Wade handled modern works where he prepared gallery pieces for places like Manhattan, London, Miami, and Los Angeles. But he kept in mind how he wanted to do his own work, to someday become a full-time artist.
A heartfelt thank you to the New York Times for highlighting the importance of the National Endowment of the Arts funding for Lakota Country. If approved by Congress, the national budget proposal would mean the elimination of NEA grants to Native artists and the organizations and institutions that support them across Indian Country.
Through this series, we highlight the extraordinary people who serve as First Peoples Fund’s board of directors. They are the culture bearers and leaders from national nonprofits within and beyond Indian Country who graciously guide First Peoples Fund and strengthen the Collective Spirit®.
Kelley Lindquist has served as president of Artspace Projects since 1987. Under his leadership, Artspace has grown from a staff of one and an annual budget of $60,000 into the nation’s leading nonprofit developer of space for artists with a staff of 70, a budget of $12 million, and stewardship of properties comprising more than two million square feet of residential, studio, office, rehearsal, and performance space. To date, Artspace has completed 35 major projects including more than 1,500 affordable live/work residences for artists and their families.
Bryan Parker (White Mountain Apache, Muscogee Creek, Mississippi Choctaw) knew it was his time and the right fit. When he learned of the position opening for the Rolling Rez Arts coordinator for First Peoples Fund, he was ready to get involved in the Native arts community on a deeper level. Rolling Rez Arts delivers state-of-the-art mobile services, including arts space, banking, retail and business training, to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Tawney Brunsch (Oglala Lakota) knows what kind of a difference the Lakota Federal Credit Union is making on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.