Rolling Rez Arts, a bus that has a bank, business center and art classroom, is gearing up for a busy summer. The bus crisscrosses the Pine Ridge Reservation, stopping in each community. This week it made a stop in Rapid City.
Gus Yellow hair is an artist and also bus driver for Rolling Rez Arts. Today on the bus, he’s joined by his granddaughter.
“My t'akója her Lakota name is (speaking Lakota), Growling Bear Woman, she carries the name of her grandmother, who has since passed on,” says Yellow Hair.
Yellow Hair’s granddaughter is using a set of markers to color a picture of a banana.
“She’s doing a little bit of art. Quite the individual for herself, really beautiful spirit you know, so that’s why we’re here on the Rolling Rez Arts, doing a little bit of artwork,” Yellow Hair adds.
Yellow Hair says art is often left behind in schools. He says this project gives younger people opportunities they sometimes can’t find elsewhere.
“We here, we have an opportunity, we’re not held back with any kind of restraints that I know of, but being able to just express ourselves through art and pass that on,” says Yellow Hair.
Lori Pourier is president of the First Peoples Fund, the organization behind the arts bus. She says Rolling Rez Arts is one facet of a broader effort to boost the arts based economy on Pine Ridge.
“You know Gus Yellow Hair and some of our other artists who are working on Pine Ridge with cultural tourism through the Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce, First Peoples Funds through our Rolling Rez Arts and so we just really want to see thriving economies that support cultural tourism,” says Pourier.
Rolling Rez Arts is making stops on Pine Ridge through the summer. Organizers hope the bus can eventually serve other areas including Cheyenne River in the future.