Fort Yates artists transform community with murals

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:10 PM CDT
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FORT YATES, N.D. (KFYR) – A handful of buildings in Fort Yates recently got a new coat of paint.

Several coats, actually.

The city was selected by the Denver-based group Babe Walls for a mural project. Artists from Denver helped local artists transform these buildings into works of art.

They hope their work might inspire the entire Standing Rock Reservation.

“I could do this 100% better now,” said Kennedy Pleets while studying the mural she painted.

Pleets is her own worst critic.

“I don’t like this shading,” she continued.

Still, for her first spray paint mural, she’s happy with how this turned out.

“I really like this part,” Pleets continued.

Pleets is one of 12 local artists chosen to transform buildings around her hometown of Fort Yates.

Breanne Luger and her 13-year-old son, Jade, painted this mural with paint and wheat paste.

“It was inspired by my culture and from all the ceremonies,” said Jade.

The mother-son team painted their mural on the side of White Buffalo Foods — a high-traffic spot on the main street coming into Fort Yates. That makes it hard to miss.

For Breanne, it’s especially close to home. She grew up just around the corner from the grocery store.

“So much of my childhood is spent around this area,” she said.

For Kolan Snider, it was a chance to honor his daughter. She was the inspiration for his mural.

“I’m still blown away when I look at it,” Snider said.

His daughter’s reaction, captured in cell phone video, makes it even more special to Snider. And now that they’ve finished their first murals, these Fort Yates artists are ready to do more. They hope their art might inspire a new generation of artists.

“The reservation is full of great artists. And hopefully, with these we can inspire the youth,” said Snider.

And now, instead of unoccupied buildings, they see blank canvases, possibilities and hope.

You can learn more about Babe Walls on their website and on Instagram.