Tribal Crafts Inc., will hold its annual holiday sale each weekend through Dec. 14. Storefront hours are Saturdays 10 am to 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 86 Halls Rd. in the Old Lyme Marketplace (next to Rob Rivers Salon).
The non-profit organization is based out of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) and the sale of items directly benefits Lakota artists and crafters of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.
The Lakota people face immense challenges on the reservation. According to 2010 census data, Ziebach County, which makes up the majority of the Cheyenne River Reservation, is America’s poorest county with unemployment estimates of above 75 percent.
Reservation life is about daily survival. Being able to help by way of Tribal Crafts is a vital part of the organization’s mission. Not only does Tribal Crafts affirm and celebrate the beautiful traditional crafts for which the Lakota are known, but it is also an important source of financial assistance.
The featured artist this year is Travis Harden: among his items are paintings on hide, paper and pottery. Harden also crafts jewelry from buffalo horn and elk bone and inlays it with turquoise, yellow sandstone and pipestone Harden says it is not always easy to sell artwork on the Reservation. “When you know Tribal Crafts is coming, you know they’ll be buying from you and that could be your rent for the month,” notes Harden, referring to the annual trip made by representatives of Tribal Crafts and FCCOL. The church and the people of Cheyenne River will celebrate 30 years of partnership in 2015.
In recent years, Tribal Crafts has also sold the work of Haitian artists affiliated with The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, a program with strong ties to FCCOL. Other items on sale include hand-made silver and beaded jewelry, vibrant Haitian paintings and sculptures, dream catchers, quilts, purses and more.