Lakota Woman Turns Traditional Arts into Business

    Roselyn Spotted Eagle

    Roselyn Spotted Eagle, who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, learned the art of beading and quilting at an early age. She used to help her mother make beaded outfits for her father, a traditional dancer, and her adopted brother, a hoopdancer. She also assisted her mother in making star quilts.

    Now she continues the ancient beadworking for dancers' outfits and moccasins. The demand for star quilts also fills the hours of her busy days.

    Roselyn says she chose to continue the crafts because "my mother taught me that I have to take care of myself and earn money." Her mother's advice has served her well. Income from her business brings in from $150 to $200 per month. "That helps me buy food and pay bills," she says. "Before the Lakota Fund, which provided me with loans and taught me good business practices, I was really struggling."

    The Lakota Fund has played an important part in helping her succeed with her business. She was one of the first Circle Banking members and was a member of a Circle Banking group for seven years. A $1,000 loan enabled her to buy leather, beads, materials for her quilts and a sewing machine.

    "They also have different workshops that help me improve my products," she says. "Through the Lakota Fund, I have learned to do quality work. And when I need business help, I know I can call on them."

    Roselyn buys many of her beading supplies from Spirit Horse Gallery (part of the Lakota fund). Without access to the Lakota Fund, she says she would have to travel several hours to Rapid City to buy supplies at a cost of time and money.