Pine Ridge has a new bank, financial literacy hub, and art space and it’s all on wheels.
Rolling Rez Arts is a mobile creative space, business training center and bank all in one bus that is crisscrossing Pine Ridge in part to help spur art based economic development.
The Rolling Rez Arts bus stems from a market study done by First Peoples Fund on the needs within the communities of Pine Ridge. The study found art is rooted deeply in Lakota culture as an inherent part of the community. But artists on Pine Ridge lack a place to work, and lack access to a bank. Brandie Macdonald is with First Peoples Fund one of the organizations behind this effort.
“It provides a space, it provides access to capital, it provides these resources and it connects people in the community with mentors with culture bearers at the same time,” says Macdonald. “Which is beautiful to
think about, it’s able to kind of do that and be able to move into the space that people the people that have
identified those needs live,” Macdonald adds.
The bus has a designated banking area and can be configured as a classroom, art space, or even a computer lab. One goal is to build an economy around the arts and culture of Pine Ridge. But Jeremy Staab with First Peoples Fund says this can’t happen without access to a bank.
“We’re thinking about asset building in the long term, says Staab. You know, how to we get people comfortable with banking. And, traditionally there may be some mistrust with banking. And so, how do we rebuild those relationships and instruct people on how to balance their bank accounts and how to utilize credit. The mobile unit will allow them to have access or at least extend Lakota Fund credit union services to all those areas,” Staab adds.
The bus is wrapped in images of buffalo by Lakota artist Don Montileaux. Organizers are working on the next phase of the project, a permanent building in Kyle called the Oglala Lakota Art Space that includes a community studio, meeting place, classrooms and gallery to serve the needs of local artists.
You can hear a full interview with Brandie Macdonald and Jeremy Staab of First Peoples Fund
by clicking play below.