Rapid City’s Main Street Square celebrated the second annual “Gathering of People, Wind and Water”. The Native American art market and cultural celebration is designed to use the Passage of Wind and Water sculpture project as an inspiration for cross-cultural awareness and appreciation.
One of Masayuki Nagase’s goals in creating the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture in the heart of Rapid City is to offer an environment where people of all races and cultures can gather to share their stories.
Key among those people are the Lakota – whose history on the Northern Plains predates the arrival of the white race by many generations.
Bryant High Horse is one of the coordinators of the Native American gathering. He sees the event as road to unity on many levels.
“We’re building cultural relationships, eliminating racism and bringing people together in a special manner,” High Horse explains. “And let people know that Native American have this intelligence…very, very artistic intelligence that people need to come see. They don’t need to fear anything. And the coolest thing about this is that we’re doing our art next to Yuki…Yuki’s art. And that incorporates the philosophy of Lakota and Oriental. It goes like hand-in-hand. So, it’s really a great place to have this in the Main Street Square.”
High Horse says one of his hopes is that the gathering creates more opportunities for emerging artists, such as Sina Bear Eagle. The Wounded Knee native focuses on acrylic art and beadwork. Sina says this the first time she’s taken part in the Gathering.
“I think it’s wonderful to have an event to promote Lakota art and Native art specifically,” comments Bear Eagle. “You know, this community could use any bit of...diversity that it can take. Really.”
As a new artist, Bear Eagle finds it inspiring to see the body of work more established artists attending the Gathering have on display. Making that art available to the public is a positive for everyone, says Bear Eagle.
“I think it’s very beneficial,” Bear Eagle notes. “I mean, I think culture is what makes a city come alive…what makes a city interesting. And to have something like this in Rapid City kind of makes it feel more like a bigger city, you know?”
Valarie Janis is also an emerging artist. Janis says she’s a bit overwhelmed by the diversity of art at the Gathering.
“I mean, so many different aspects of who we are and what we are is being shared,” Janis observes. “And a lot of people are enjoying…like the hoop dancers are just amazing. And seeing all the variety of art there are. I mean, there’s paintings and there’s photography and there’s jewelry...just a vast amount that we have is just…great. I’m so excited.”
Janis adds with a laugh that she’s so excited she’s about to jump out of her chair.
Along with the variety of artists the very enthusiastic Valerie Janis mentions are demonstrators like Mike Marshall, from the Rosebud Reservation.
“What I have here are my Lakota games,” Marshall explains. “I’ve got everything from winter games to summer games. A few of them, some people would call them snow snakes. Like right here I’ve got a throwing the buffalo rib game. You play it on the ice or snow. It’s usually a young man’s game.”
Mike Marshall says his primary purpose for being here is to show children of all cultures what Native Americans did to entertain themselves “back in the day”.
Jennifer Kreisberg is a member of Ulali – a Native American women’s a cappella group. Taking a break from the afternoon heat inside a coffee house at Main Street Square, Kreisberg notes that she and sister-singer Pura Fe’ jumped at the invitation to attend the Gathering, even though it meant journeying from the East coast.
“We both have relatives here, so any chance to work out here is a chance to come and see family,” Kreisberg explains. “That’s why it’s also important to be a part of this project that they’re doing every year…because it’s so needed. There really needs to be a…better communication and understanding between the two main communities that are here.”
Lakota ledger artist Evans Flammond as been selling his work in the Rapid City area for 26 years. Flammond notes that he’s never seen anything like the opportunity the “Gathering of People, Wind and Water” celebration offers for focusing on Native American artists in the region.
And though it may not be the ultimate answer for healing the cultures, Flammond thinks the event is definitely another way to continue “chipping away” at the problem.
Ulali - "Mahk Jci" - live at “A Gathering of People, Wind and Water”.
Ulali - "Idle No More" - live at “A Gathering of People, Wind and Water”.