Oglala Lakota Artspace, getting creative with $75,000 “Our Town Grant”

Received an $75,000 "Our Town Grant"
Received an $75,000 "Our Town Grant"(KOTA)
Published: May. 26, 2021 at 3:53 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Oglala Lakota Artspace recently finished construction on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and the First People’s Fund was awarded a 75 thousand dollar Our Town Grant to help bring programs to the area.

Our Town Grants support projects that integrate arts and culture into communities where they’re paramount.

The funding will construct an educational design project. Specifically, implementing a curriculum centered around both tribal history native to the region and plant life.

The Pine Ridge Reservation has a population where 30-percent of people make a living through art, which could have played a factor in the National Endowment of the Arts awarding the grant to the First People’s Fund and 62 other organizations out of more than 300 applicants.

With so many local artists, Charlie Cuny, the Program Manager for the Oglala Lakota Artspace, says this building provides a space for them to both create their craft and teach it.

“We do want to implement a type of Lakota knowledge. So, we’re going to be also including Star Knowledge. We like to believe, ‘as above, so below. What’s in the sky is here on Earth.’ Being able to reclaim their [artists] Lakota identity. Because, we’re living in two different worlds now. In order to survive both,” says Cuny, “you need to learn how to walk that balance.”

The Artspace is planning to have a variety of artists move into the building next week. Particularly, artists like a musician, leather tooler, painter and others.

The space is currently only allowing a limited number of people. However, as COVID-19 protocol loosens, they’re optimistic that there will be access for more community members.

”I am so excited,” exclaims Cuny, “I can’t express it enough. Once we’re able to share this space with everybody, I keep telling everyone that this place should have been here when I was in high school. I was never into sports or anything and this is what I needed. This project has been long overdo, and it is going to be a vital community source for everyone.”

The Artspace hopes to match the 75 thousand dollar grant and progress the capabilities of the facility.

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