Whiteclay, NE makerspace providing resources and opportunities for native artists
PINE RIDGE, S.D. — The town of Whiteclay in Nebraska is just a mile south of the Pine Ridge Reservation, that over the years has been ravaged by alcohol abuse. In an effort to reverse that, the Whiteclay makerspace is now providing jobs and resources for native artists.
Whiteclay was once just a town of bars. A wild west community where people from neighboring towns would go for alcohol, but hat changed four years ago. The liquor stores were shut down to make way for new businesses.
“There’s are a lot of people that live out in the country, they would come and they would buy alcohol,” said makerspace assistant, Nadine Morrison. “It was just a alcohol town, and one of the biggest improvements is those bars are now gone, and the people on the streets are no longer there.”
Just over half of native households on Pine Ridge depend on home-based enterprises for income, with four-out-of-five consisting of some form of traditional art. An estimated 30% of artists live below the poverty line, but there has not been access to resources for local artists. Many having to travel as far as Rapid City for equipment and materials.
“A lot of them live in mobile homes, or homes where there’s more than one family in the home,” said Morrison. “It will give more space to be able to work and maybe have that privacy, or get away from their family for a couple of hours and come in here and not have any distractions or not be distracted.”
For just $1 a day, artists can utilize equipment such as carpentry tools, a new 3-D printer, as well as a quilting machine which was donated by the Rapid City Rotary Club. The makerspace is open Wednesday through Friday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m., with plans to expand the store-front and add an online store.