Tuesday, February 24, 2009
What a cryin, low down, dirty shame
Isn’t it a Shame?
Imagine this, you are not from here but are gambling at the local casino. You hit a jackpot and take your honey to eat at the buffet. After stuffing your body and purse with food you make your way to the gift shop to buy your honey some of the beautiful local handmade artwork of the local tribe. When you get there you find that hardly ANY of the artwork in the gift shop is locally made. In fact most of it is from another tribe in the Southwest.
What a shame!
Did our tribe or our people that are employed at the local casino really make a trip to the southwest and buy all of their jewelry?
When I worked at The Heritage Center at Red Cloud School, many people came from many different tribes, from around the country, and the world even, to buy the local arts and crafts. As Lakota, we have a reputation for our art on every level, both traditional and contemporary. So it disappoints me to see the casino gift shop highlight the artwork of another tribe, that isn’t even local. It’s as if there are no artists among us when we all know there are.
How can we deny local artists and craftspeople of that sale? We have a plethora of local artists in many, many different mediums that there is no reason that any gift shop two days from this reservation should highlight the artwork of a tribe that is states away. There is no reason for a local gift shop to highlight the Southwest jewelry of a market that is already flooded.
I mean if we really think about it, and think of the many wonderful local artists who paint, carve, bead, quill, quilt, etc, why do we need to carry silverwork of another tribe? Why do most of the gift shops in the Black Hills carry southwest work? If we go to the Southwest, are we going to see our Lakota artwork featured?
The economy in this day and age is tough enough, but on this reservation it is always tough. I don’t need to go over statistics again for this reservation, don’t need to tell anyone how hard life is here. All you have to do to see how hard life is here for some people is step out your front door. Everyday is a struggle and a scheme for many.
So why is the featured art at our local casino from the Southwest? That is a slap in the face to all the local talent and creativity. All the money spent on that inventory could have been spent here on this reservation. Everyday someone here sits at their kitchen table beading, quilling, painting, carving, putting diamonds together for a starquilt, putting the ear hooks on a pair of earrings in the hopes that they can go out and sell whatever they made to buy diapers, a meal, put gas in their car, or propane in their tank for heat.
To all the local artists, I thank you for your creativity and heart you put into your work. Keep it up and speak out for what you believe in.