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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Cheyenne River Tribe to Break Ground for New Youth Center


by Jomay Steen, Journal Staff Writer


credits: This drawing, by Thurston Design Group of Rapid City, shows the interior design of the Internet cafe portion of a new youth center at Eagle Butte. (Courtesy photo)


This drawing, by Thurston Design Group of Rapid City, shows the interior design of the Internet cafe portion of a new youth center at Eagle Butte. (Courtesy photo)EAGLE BUTTE — If you build it, they will come.

That's what organizers of a new youth center at Eagle Butte are hoping.

The $2.1 million youth center is scheduled to open on Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in the summer of 2005 because its youth dreamed big.

For Cheyenne River's Youth Program executive director Julie Garreau, the 22,700-square-foot structure is the culmination of three years of fund-raising, land acquisition and construction.

"We started planning for it by visiting three high school classes and asking the kids what they wanted in a teen center," Garreau said.

What they wanted, Garreau promised to deliver.

"This whole place is built on broken promises," Garreau said of her home reservation. "When we make a promise, we keep it."

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, in partnership with Running Strong for American Indian Youth, will host a ground-breaking ceremony for the Cheyenne River Youth Project Teen Center at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, at The Main, south of the Eagle Butte Elderly Nutrition Center. A meal and social will follow at 11:30 a.m.

In a place where basketball is king, the center includes an indoor, regulation-sized basketball court. But it is the attention paid to the cultural aspects that has introduced some surprises. This includes a dance studio, art lab, computer lab, library and Internet cafe, Garreau said.

The eatery will feature Internet computer hookups and seating for 55 people. It will also provide revenue for the center. But more than offering a cup of coffee or a sandwich, the center will offer a place for youth to play, dream and build for the future, she said.

The CRST council gave the project tribal land for the center. Si Tanka University, the community college, will provide labor, equipment and dirt to fill and prepare the site of the future center. Demolition of an abandoned building started May 19, with Si Tanka University workers tearing down the structure and clearing the work site, Garreau said.

The new center will accommodate volunteers who come to the reservation for summer internships, volunteer opportunities and mission trips.

Designed by Thurston Design Group of Rapid City, the new complex will incorporate the current youth center with a 100-by-142-foot metal building.

Jim Baldwin, project manager, said they would reuse the existing center but create new space inside of it.

"We're going to convert it into classrooms, library, living quarters and administrative space," he said.

A new metal building will house the kitchen, gymnasium, locker rooms, mechanical room, public restrooms and storage.

Baldwin gives the project about an eight- to 10-month timeline for construction to be completed. Building a new gymnasium will take time, but time will be saved by putting together the large pre-engineered metal building with pre-manufactured structural frames, he said.

"It's relatively utilitarian," he said. "We're going to play a little with colors and with a few curving interior walls for playfulness."

The Internet cafe will connect the existing building with the new building. Baldwin said an industrial aesthetic would be adopted for the space with ample room to seat 55 customers.

"The three classrooms each hold 25 to 30 students, and the computer room will have space for 16 stations," Baldwin said.

That's music to Garreau's ears.

A tribal member, Garreau founded the Cheyenne River Youth Program in 1988. As director since the beginning of the program, Garreau wants to keep recreational activities available and focused on children ages 4 to 12 but also expand to provide activities to youth ages 13 to 18. The center sponsors community gardens as well as a midnight basketball project to keep youths active.

In November 2002, the youth program received a $250,000 challenge grant from Running Strong, the second grant of its kind awarded to the program. It helped launch a capital campaign that helped raise a third of the $2.1 million needed for the new center's construction, she said.

"It gave us leverage and a foundation to raise other funds," Garreau said.

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