This past Monday I headed to Rapid City with trusty tour guide Steve, who is famous for his beakneck-speed tours of various places. It's a several-hours drive out to the western edge of the state, but it was a great day, clear and sunny and not too cold, and the views were spectacular.
We hit lots of cool places after doing a couple errands. First stop: a place called Prairie Edge that's a store, though it's more like a museum that you can buy stuff out of. (If you click on the link, you'll hear a nice greeting in Lakota!) There was an art gallery and a bookstore inside, but also a HUGE room with traditional art pieces made by native artisans: painted buffalo robes, drums, staffs, beaded dresses, painted dresses, pipe bags, rawhide containers, beaded bags, pipes, dolls, jewelry... it was pretty overwhelming. I felt like maybe I might pass out--it's amazing to see all this stuff in one place, all of it made by hand, and all a continuation of the artwork that people have been making on this continent for centuries... The prices reflect the value of the pieces, so my purchases were limited to the bookstore section. :)
We also stopped in the section of the store called Sioux Trading Post where people buy the SUPPLIES to make said pieces--beads, sinew, feathers, hides, quills... That was awesome, too; I didn't buy a whole lot, but I might have to get some stuff from them online at some point.
After fortifying ourselves with some lunch (shopping made me hungry), we headed to our next stop: the Black Hills! (Paha Sapa, or He Sapa, in Lakota) We went to the Crazy Horse Memorial, a project initiated by the Oglala Lakota in which they recruited Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to blast the work out of one of the hills. (He has since died and his wife and some of his 10 children are carrying on the work.) Here is the monument itself:
And here is the statue that serves as a model for the larger piece (partly in shadow--sorry about that):
It will eventually be a huge complex complete with educational center... Here is more information (and lots better photos).
In the visitor's center there's a section with native artwork, including these two pieces--a pair of gloves (not traditional Lakota themes here; maybe more like Anishnaabeg)...
... and a fully beaded bag:
You might notice that this piece features the American flag prominently. There were a number of older pieces with the American flag beaded into them at the St. Francis museum that I wasn't allowed to take photos of. Steve explained that for a time, the 4th of July was the only time that the Lakota were allowed to practice their traditional ways of life, so the American flag started showing up a lot in beadwork. (Historical note: Albert told us in class that until 1978, it was actually ILLEGAL to hold ceremonies. That's 1978, people! Within my lifetime! It's mind-boggling.)
After stopping by a place called Claw, Antler, and Hide company (wow, everybody's got a web site these days!) to pick up supplies for one of Steve's classes (THAT was an experience), we next headed through Custer State Park--definitely the best thing going in the Rapid City area, in my opinion. I've only seen it once before, last summer, so it was neat to see it in snow. Here are some pics I snapped as Steve kindly drove the twisty roads through the park:
We didn't see the buffalo who live there, but we did see some deer:
And this particular grove of trees intrigued me:
I know I keep saying this, but it was BEAUTIFUL! Again!
I hope you get to witness something beautiful today,
So now let us speak of something awkward
1 day ago