Rediscovering Native Art on Cheyenne River
A Native American nonprofit organization plans to boost the economy of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation by promoting cultural tourism. The Four Bands Community Fund will implement a project to assist 100 Native Americans in building an art business by providing access to loan capital, equity injections, and professional development training.
Participating artists in the “Rediscovering Native Art on Cheyenne River” project will become the centerpiece of a cultural tourism marketing campaign designed to promote the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation as a destination.
Tanya Fiddler is executive director of the Four Bands Community Fund.
“Four Bands is a loan fund that looks at the economic opportunities…does market assessment and things like that in trying to identify industries that are viable,” explains Fiddler. “In a state where tourism is the second leading industry….we had been doing some work cultivating the tourism sector about 5 years ago…and kind of moved around into some other areas…and are coming back to it now.”
Part of Fiddler’s return to exploring and enhancing tourism on Cheyenne River comes from the substantial funding from several sources to support Native artists in developing successful arts businesses. This includes a $200,000 grant from a joint initiative by the Kresge and Surdna Foundations called Catalyzing Culture and Communities through Community Development Financial Institutions.
Over the next 2 years, Fiddler hopes to not only positively impact the reservation’s economy but also maintain and strengthen the Native American culture there.
“When you see the joy…celebration with performing arts, visual arts, crafts, food arts that we’ve been experiencing,” Fiddler explains. “We’re just going to try to do more with and develop some partnerships with our tribal programs here to…create a center…possibly in partnership with our Chamber of Commerce…so that tourism and art culture is hand in glove.”
Fiddler adds that the Four Bands Community Fund has recently created a Visitor Guide for the Reservation and will continue to update that as the “Rediscovering Native Art on Cheyenne River” project expands.