The Time is Now May 18 2015

Fellow Board Member Almira Uemura and I traveled from Iowa to Pine Ridge in April. We traveled with our friends from partner organizations 4 Feathers Development and Pine Ridge Ministry Team and I stayed several more days to attend a small art fair organized by Lakota Hope in White Clay at the end of the month, which the PRCAC was honored to help sponsor. During our visit, we met with Joe Pulliam, our President and fellow Director as well as Sandra Graff, our Promoter, to discuss priorities and future plans. We also had the opportunity to meet with several other artists already involved with the Art Center, met and signed up close to 30 artists and crafters interested in getting involved, and made several other promising contacts! And we purchased many beautiful new items, which will be for sale in our online store very soon. I even had the opportunity to talk about the Art Center to a group of volunteers from Minnestota. Sandra and I toured the dam area near Denby (11 miles east of Pine Ridge) as the future site for outdoor programs and events. Sandra is currently working with the Wakpamni Task Force to develop garden space and camping in that area. We looked at the old Denby Station as a future site for facilitating the outdoor programs and events as well as for studio space. We drove to Scenic to scout sites for setting up a booth during the Sturgis Bike Rally and while that appears to be a no-go, we are considering the Ranger Station south of Scenic, just inside the Reservation. (We welcome any thoughts about this and help with this endeavor!) The most exciting aspect of the trip was discussing possible sites for a physical location for the Art Center and Gallery in the town of Pine Ridge. It was generally agreed that the old “FBI Building” would be the perfect location for the Art Center! Situated right in the heart of Pine Ridge, this building with its questionable and perhaps dark history (I can’t find much about it online; if anyone has any information, please share!) has a lot of nice large windows, and original wood floors according to everyone I spoke with. It is owned by the Tribe and we need to find the best way to approach the Tribal Council about this idea…along with assessing the feasibility of restoring it to usable space. We also discussed the supply store, a goal that should be much easier to achieve. The Wakpamni Task Force has generously offered a room in their office as a temporary site for the Supply Store and all we need to put this into place is an inventory system, an Internet connection, part-time wages for the store manager and a bit of working capital to build the inventory. A supply store offering commonly used supplies at cost would certainly provide a terrific boost to local artists and crafters. And there are many other things coming up quickly: In addition to Sturgis, August 3-9, there is the Oglala Nation Pow Wow in Pine Ridge July 31-August 2 and the Arts Festival at the Custer Buffalo Roundup September 24-26. We would like to have the artist and crafters of the PRCAC represented at all of these events. And we need your help.

To get started, the PRCAC is in desperate need of funds and people to help raise those funds and organize for these goals and events. I have been heading up these efforts so far and I am very sorry to report that, as I returned from Pine Ridge on April 30 full of ideas and eager to take big steps, I also returned to a very sick 21-year-old, my daughter Chloe, and I have put off everything in order to be by her side as we wait and wait…and wait…for a diagnosis and treatment. So, if you’re interested in what we’re doing and would like to donate or get involved, please let us know. The need is urgent and the time is now!

Natalie Hilleman