Rapid City Government Holds Vision Funds From Indigenous Group
RAPID CITY, SD — There have been discussions about an Indigenous community center, but nothing has moved forward yet.
The He Sapa Otipi are the organizers of the campaign to build the indigenous community center.
The group has had a contingency placed on the project and has yet to receive payments from the Vision Fund, unlike other projects.
“What we are asking of the city is to be able to fund the project like everyone else, and to move forward with the project because it is a good project for the community,” said Valeriah Big Eagle. , board member of He Sapa Otipi.
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said the lack of funding is because the city did not receive a plan or design.
“There is no design work completed, there are – to our knowledge – no formal relationships with any contractors or designers,” Allender said. “I am not aware of a business plan for this center.”
Allender explained that to receive Vision funds, the project must be in progress and there must be verification that the contractors have been paid.
“In no way that I know of did we just write a check for the prize and then let them start planning the project,” Allender said. “We are stewards of taxpayer funds, which is why we have built-in protections — not just for this project, but for every project that isn’t a government project.”
The group says in their Vision Funds application that they would use part of the funds to create a design and that they cannot commission an architect without the funds being released.
The contingency was part of receiving the award and incorporating it into resolving land issues related to the Rapid City Indian Residential School lands. Organizers said they wanted the contingency removed, but Allender explained that was why they received the Vision funds in the first place.
Cante Heart, chairman of the board of directors of He Sapa Otipi, said the community center would be an indigenous-run center but would be open to everyone. And that being able to hold their own ceremonies is the biggest goal.
“Having wakes and funerals is the most important priority in our missing community, and we need a place where we can have our cultural ceremonies and wakes,” Heart said. “And so I think this community center would bring everyone together and certainly help our indigenous community as well. »
Mayor Allender is expected to contact the group in the coming days to try to resolve the organizers’ issues and concerns.