This place is huge! It’s a co-operative store run by the five local tribes: Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara), Lakota and Dakota. All staff are tribal members and the art is all sold on consignment.
As a general rule, when buying Native American art if you are not buying it directly from the artist, it’s best to search out these sorts of places, as they never take advantage of the artists — which most other places will do.
The reclining woman tempted me but I do not currently have a local friend to hold on to it for me (I did recently buy a painting in Georgia, which I left at a friend’s home for safe keeping) and she was very heavy (solid stone), so lugging her around in my car till I get to such a location is not feasible. Sigh…
Like I said, I spent a summer doing research into economic development on an Indian reservations (with most rez’s having the highest percentage of poverty in the country). Most native American artists don’t understand the business aspect of their work, and will tend to sell at a overall loss (for a variety of reasons). Gallery’s like this one, which are run by the tribes, ensure that this does not happen. Additionally, most stores that sell NA art, jewelry, etc, add on massive profit margins so that you will pay FAR more buying from them, than from places like this. So it really is a win win to try to search these places out.
The woman showed me the bunch of really beautiful rings (above) and said “these are made by our youngest artist she’s 8 years old, she’s been beading since she was about two.”