For the People Festival Leaves Lasting Impact in Rapid City | NDN Collective

Brandy Calabaza · May 10, 2022

For the People Festival Leaves Lasting Impact in Rapid City

Over a thousand people came together for the first-ever For the People Festival headlined by over a dozen Indigenous artists from across Turtle Island, after an earlier planned event went awry.

Indigenous artists and musicians from across Turtle Island gathered in Rapid City, South Dakota on Saturday, April 16, in the first-ever For the People Festival. The live concert hosted at Rapid Skillz Sports Complex was emceed by Whitney Recountre and featured a special line-up of musical guests and entertainers including Antoine Edwards, Opie & Des, Ekitchetu, Def-I, Fawn Wood, Terrance Jade, The Bearhead Sisters, Tonia Jo Hall, Gunner Jules, Spur Pourier, Jaque Fragua, Night Shield, DJ reHst, Dawson Dayne, Let it Bee, and Stacks Thunderhawk.

Artists pictured with NDN Collective and Rapid Skillz crews at the end of the For the People Festival. Photo By Marty Aranaydo for NDN Collective.

The atmosphere at the For the People (FTP) Festival was energizing and a positive affirmation for organizers who rushed to bring the event together. Many of the artists at the FTP Festival were originally slated to perform at an event to occur that same weekend, billed “Akisa 2022: In a Good Way,” but backed out of the event just days before, reporting that the the event’s promoter, Brandon Ferguson, failed to communicate with them about pay, travel costs and hotel rooms.

With many of the artists having already made their way to Rapid City, they were left with little to no options. Faced with a challenging situation, a group of the artists sought out the support of NDN Collective to ensure the show would go on.

“We took a really unfortunate situation and did our best to make something really positive out of it that both uplifts the artists and creates something healthy and positive for the Native community and our allies in the broader community here in Rapid City,” said NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen. In less than 24 hours, NDN Collective secured the venue, made travel arrangements for the artists, and the For the People Festival was born.

Through their music and art, they bring us medicine and help us radically imagine the future we are fighting for. The FTP Festival was a celebration of Indigenous cultural power and talent

Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO

With over a thousand relatives in attendance, the festival was an experience that honored the artists and brought the people together, showcasing the pure love that each artist has for music, entertainment, and community. For many in attendance, this event was one of the first public concerts they attended in over two years since the start of the pandemic. From start to finish, the festival radiated elements of connectedness that exist uniquely within Indigenous gatherings.

“Saying last night was amazing is an understatement,” said singer and musician, Fawn D. Wood (Plains Cree and Salish). “It was truly an event I’ll never forget.”

“Nanaskamon (I’m thankful) for NDN Collective for making this beautiful event happen,” Wood wrote on social media. “In my whole time as an artist, I’ve never experienced moments like this where I had the crowd singing with me– it absolutely blew me away, and I really had to thank the team that worked so hard to make this happen in such short notice and I really believe when things fall into place like that it’s truly meant to be.”

Fawn Wood sings to the crowd at the For the People Festival. Photo By Aria Stafford for Rapid Skillz.

A mutual love for music, entertainment, and laughter brought the people out and the energy that was shared at the For the People Festival was one that inspired the attendees long after the concert. 

“We here at NDN Collective believe in honoring and supporting Indigenous artists,” said Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO. “They are the connection to the past, present and future. Through their music and art, they bring us medicine and help us radically imagine the future we are fighting for.”

“The FTP Festival was a celebration of Indigenous cultural power and talent,” Tilsen continued. “It was an honor to support these artists and uplift the spirit of the people!”

Click on photographs to expand

“[For the People Festival] was beautiful. I’m honored to have been able to help organize and coordinate the show,” said Umonhon and Lakota hip-hop artist Antoine Edwards. “Artists were coming forward with concerns, and NDN Collective was more than willing to help. Artists were put in bad situations full of uncertainty and thanks to the [NDN Collective] team, they found hospitality, support, and made good memories.”

In the end, strong connections were made, many laughs were shared, and the vast talent of Indigenous artists that we are blessed with throughout our communities was uplifted. The chaos and uncertainty that existed before was left behind, leaving one fact that remains certain– Indigenous artists possess the power to bring the people together, and on their own terms.

At NDN Collective, we are honored to have been asked by the artists to support the For the People Festival. Music is medicine and Indigenous artists are the voice. They continue to bring prayers of healing with their songs and lyrics, many carrying depictions of the realties we face as Indigenous Peoples. As they share their gift with us, it is also a collective duty to ensure our artists are taken care of and treated well.

More Photos from the For the PEople Festival

Tonia Jo Hall performs her Auntie Beatrice skit at the FTP Festival. Photo By Aria Stafford for Rapid Skillz

Brandy Calabaza
Brandy Calabaza

Brandy Calabaza (She/Her), Communications Associate, is Jicarilla Apache and Kewa Pueblo from Northern New Mexico. Brandy supports the Communications and Narrative Team with all aspects of content creation, targeted outreach, copywriting, and overall management of internal communications systems. Throughout and following college, she continued to build on her professional development holding various positions in her Tribal community, including working with the Nations courts in the prosecutorial setting, teaching language classes to children, and working with and empowering Native Youth. Brandy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies from Fort Lewis College and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma. 


June 2022 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Posted 3 days ago NDN Collective Responds to Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade
“This is yet another attack by the settler state to risk the safety of our most vulnerable and eliminate the possibilities of full, healthy, and affirmed lives.”
Posted 1 week ago Fatherhood is Ceremony: Q&A with an Indigenous Father Prioritizing Healing and Family

Brandy Calabaza

We sat down with our very own Jordan Brien, Creative Director for NDN Collective, to talk about fatherhood and healing. His story ignites hope for a generation of Indigenous parents who are actively working to break colonial cycles of trauma while strengthening the family unit.
Posted 2 weeks ago NDN Collective Responds to White Nationalist Group’s Planned Riot at Idaho Pride Celebration
“Anti-queer and trans hate is the product of genocide and colonialism – before white settlers arrived and began to wreak havoc on our people, Indigenous communities embraced our LGBTQIA2S+ community members."
Posted 2 weeks ago NDN Collective Launches 2022 Community Self-Determination Grant: A Power Building Opportunity for Indigenous Communities
The application for the 2022 Community Self-Determination Grant is now open to Indigenous communities throughout Turtle Island. This grant opportunity is intended to build Indigenous Power throughout our Nations with significant, flexible, multi-year funding.
Posted 1 month ago VIDEO: Grand Gateway Hotel Owner Physically Attacks NDN Collective Racial Equity Director
Grand Gateway Hotel owner Connie Uhre approaches boycotters and sprays Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Director of Racial Equity, directly in the face with a cleaning product.
Posted 1 month ago Boycott Ramps Up With Light Projection, Support for NDN Collective From Rapid City Businesses
“We love our community, we love our people – and because of that love, we won’t back down until Rapid City creates concrete consequences for any businesses that have racist practices and policies.”
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective and Local Native Organizers Provide Support for Those Impacted by Wildfires in New Mexico
NDN Collective’s Climate Justice Campaign joined with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women to distribute dozens of air filters for those impacted by the wildfires in New Mexico. The wildfires have been raging for over a month, spurred by unprecedented winds and drought which have consumed nearly 237,000 acres so far.
Posted 2 months ago Take Action! Join the Boycott Against Racist Businesses in Rapid City

Sarah Sunshine Manning

NDN Collective and a growing coalition of community members are mobilizing a boycott against the Grand Gateway Hotel and all Uhre-owned family businesses in response to discrimination and racist business practices.
Posted 2 months ago Celebrating the Matriarchs Who Have Left Imprints On Our Hearts

Brandi Douglas

On Mother’s Day and every day, we acknowledge our Matriarchs. Every moment of action and vocalization of truth for the betterment of the collective has been a testament to the reclamation and power to lead as they always have.
Posted 2 months ago NDN Collective Launches Community Engagement Survey for Distributing Nearly $50M to Native People in SD, ND, and MN
“We have an ambitious goal of hearing from over 20,000 Native individuals situated in the tri-state area. Our voices and lived experiences matter - and so do our visions and dreams for an abundant future.”
NDN Collective
408 Knollwood Dr
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: [email protected]
© 2022 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.