Free Business Training to be Offered to Native Artists in Eastern South Dakota

Sisseton-area groups band together to host workshop led by national non-profit organization.

Native artists in Eastern South Dakota will have the opportunity to learn how to expand their arts business during a free professional development training in September.

In partnership with the First Peoples Fund, a national Native organization based in South Dakota committed to supporting and honoring Native American artists, Sisseton Wahpeton College will host a free two-day training for artists looking to develop their skills, connections, and business models.

The training will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 11, and Friday, September 12, 2014, at The Log Cabin at Sisseton Wahpeton College. The training is free to artists, and advanced registration is encouraged at

At the training, artists will learn how to market their art, set budgets and pricing structures, develop a business plan, and more. The training will equip Native artist entrepreneurs of all ages with the tools to enhance their skills, said Logan Anderson, program manager for non-profit partnerships at First Peoples Fund.
“We hope they walk away with a better understanding of how their art plays an important role in their community. The training will offer advice on how to break into new markets, organize, and expand,” Anderson said. “We offer an instructive step-by-step guide that includes resources, valuable lessons and tips. The information we teach on organizational methods, accounting, keeping track of records, and more is critical to helping artists make a living from their work.”

The First Peoples Fund curriculum views the business of art as a way of cultural leadership in communities as well as a viable economic engine for individuals and families.

Mary White-Country, from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe in South Dakota, is a former recipient of First Peoples Fund’s Artist in Business Leadership Fellowship who has taken part in previous professional development opportunities led by First Peoples Fund. An artist who does intricate beadwork, she said the trainings she took part in through her fellowship program were instrumental in helping her to professionalize her business, and presentation at the art markets she attends.

“There is not anything like this training offered in our community,” White-Country said. it is a unique opportunity that doesn’t come along often. I have been telling the artists I know around the area how critical it is for them to attend, and have been encouraging students at the tribal college to also attend. In fact, even though I have been through the training before, I am going to take it again. There is always something new to learn.”

Jane Rasmussen, who serves on the South Dakota Arts Council, said that she has seen the impact trainings like this can have on other Native artists. She pointed to people like Donald Montileaux, who serves on the council with her and has had a long, respected career because he has been able to master the art of his art, and the art of running a business.

“Don is someone who is revered across the state,” she said. “If other artists have the opportunity to work with people like him, and see what he has done for himself, his family and his culture, I think others can have similar success too.”

Grow South Dakota, Robers County National Bank, Sisseton Arts Council, Sisseton Economic Development Corporation, and Sisseton Wahpeton College are sponsoring the training.

For more information on the Native Artist Professional Development Training, call Whitney Renville, director of student support services at Sisseton Wahpeton College, at (605) 698-3966 ext. 1130 or visit


First Peoples Fund Native Artist Professional Development Training

Thursday, September 11 and Friday, September 12, 2014

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Sisseton Wahpeton College

The Log Cabin

BIA Road 700

Agency Village, South Dakota 57262


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