Nonprofit envisions a ‘new Whiteclay’ for artists

WHITECLAY, Neb. – A new nonprofit is working toward a place for artists to thrive in a town formerly known for alcohol sales.

In April 2017, the liquor stores of Whiteclay, Nebraska were shut down. The stores sold about 3.5 million cans of beer annually in a village with nine residents next South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned.

Whiteclay Makerspace wants to shift the focus away from alcohol, saying they’ve made the first step toward a new Whiteclay. They’ve secured a federal grant for rural development, and they’re going to use it to build a makerspace for local artists.

The goal is to “provide career and income stability while meeting critical needs for our artists, such as lack of
supplies, studio space, and a fair-priced market,” according to the group.

The makerspace is now fundraising to pay for renovations, equipment, and an online store, with the goal of launching operations in 2019.

“Whiteclay can be famous for good, not for bad,” says Nebraska Sen. Tom Brewer, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Another tribal member, Norma Blacksmith, is a nationally recognized quilter. She says artists “need 100% support. They need someone to be there for them.”

Categories: South Dakota News