Funding requested for South Dakota’s Wakpa Seca Indian center

Fort Pierre, South Dakota (AP) 8-09

If economic stimulus money comes through, work could resume on the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place north of Fort Pierre for the first time since federal funds ran out in 2006.

Wakpa Sica officials have applied for federal grants totaling $30 million as part of the economic stimulus act, designed to fund “shovel-ready” projects and create jobs.

“We would be complete if we got everything. We’re a shovel-ready project,” said Stacey LaCompte, Wakpa Sica’s executive director. “The construction manager says he can get his team mobilized and three days later we can be going on the construction.”

But she has gotten no word the requested grants. The state’s congressional delegation has supported funding for the project.

“We’ve been working on this thing for a long time,” said Clarence Skye, a Wakpa Sica board member. “We need to get it completed.”


The partially built center designed to promote cultural understanding among South Dakota’s American Indian tribes and non-Indians in the state. LaCompte said the center, once constructed, could provide jobs for as many as 200 people.

“I’d be ecstatic,” said LaCompte. “It’s not just for the tribes. I believe it’s for the state. If we had an economic development center here and a training center, it would be for the local people, too.”

Work would resume right away even if Wakpa Sica gets only part of its request, LaCompte said.

If completed, Wakpa Sica will house a museum and cultural center that supporters hope will attract tourists and school groups and a justice center intended as a neutral setting for settling reservation disputes. It also will display and interpret tribal history, art and culture.

“Economic development and the judicial system go neck and neck,” LaCompte said. “Businesses can come in and feel comfortable. Lenders will have precedent to move forward – there’s something in writing that lets them feel more secure in coming to our reservations.”

In 2000, Congress authorized $18.2 million in Housing and Urban Development grants for Wakpa Sica, but the law provided no money, so the project depended on yearly appropriations.

The reconciliation place project had been getting about $2 million a year up to 2005 but got only $200,000 in the 2006 federal budget. The original plan was to finish it by 2010.

Groundbreaking was held in 2002.