SAFE HAVEN: New Native American teen center looks to support area children
A new Native American teen center next to Woyatan Lutheran Church hopes to be a safe place for children to stay off the streets.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A celebration — for support and change, coming to the Native American community in Rapid City.
“Today is a blessing. A blessing for our north side, our community,” said Chris White Eagle, the President of the Wambli Ska Society.
“This is truly a testament to hard work and dedication and being sincere and finding common ground to help the community for all of here in Rapid,” said Jonathan Old Horse, the Pastor at Woyatan Lutheran Church.
It’s a new beginning — especially for the youth who will benefit from the Wambli Ska Okolakiciye building next to the Woyatan Lutheran church.
The church and local organizations, including NDN Collective, the Pennington County State’s Attorneys Office, the South Dakota Synod and many more coming together to make it happen.
Dedicated to Daron White Eagle, who made it his mission to bring back traditional song and dance to families in Rapid City — now his son Chris White Eagle, leading the center and keeping culture close.
“Everything is built on our culture. That’s why everything we do is going to be culture,” White Eagle said.
It’ll serve the youth in the area, who need a safe haven, a time when the church had seen 12 suicides of youth all below the age of 19 in the past year.
Something that resonates with Chris.
“It could have been just as easily been one of my kids, you know? You know, with that being said, that’s why it’s important for this place to be up and running and functioning,” White Eagle said.
It’s not about what the center will have but more of what won’t it have.
Filled with a food bank, a gym, game rooms, a laundromat, art rooms, — all how they wanted it.
“I wanted them to design and tell us what they wanted, what they wanted and it’s a art room,” White Eagle said. They wanted to express themselves with art. Regalia making, ribbon skirts and it’s all stuff they wanted and that’s where it’s symbolic. It’s their center.”
It’ll face it’s obstacles, like trying to feed potentially hundreds of kids but Chris won’t turn anyone who needs help away.
“You don’t need no I.D. You don’t need to be an adult. If you need food, you need food,” White Eagle said.
Support, healing and love, built into the center.
“You build it, they will come right? You know? It’s built and they’re here. You know, the support is here,” White Eagle said.
Chris also says that food donations are needed as the center is set to open on Monday.