Coming soon: the Oglala Lakota Artspace center in Kyle

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KYLE, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- Ground was broken Thursday afternoon on a groundbreaking new art center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The $3 million Oglala Lakota Artspace project got a ceremonial kickoff just outside of Kyle. The center will house studio art spaces, a recording studio, a Native gallery and gift shop as well as a storefront for the Lakota Federal Credit Union.

Think of it as art as economic development.

"This is what we as tribal leaders push for," said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Scott Weston.

It's sponsored in part by a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"We're very excited to have the opportunity to support this investment because we think it's very appropriate to this region and the economic opportunity in this area," said Dennis Alvord from the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. Alvord flew out from Washington, D.C., for the ceremony.

The project is spearheaded by the Rapid City-based organization First Peoples Fund. It aims to capitalize on -- and nurture -- the ever present art activity in reservation households.

"It's happening already in the homes," said First Peoples Fund President Lori Pourier. "Kids are already sitting at the table making some sort of traditional art with their parents, with their family, with their extended family. We hope to put some structure to that and have a creative place to make art."

For Sherri Salway Black, the chair of the board of First Peoples Fund, the groundbreaking marked a milestone in a career in Lakota economic development that began in the 1980s.

"It is just transformational," she said. "If I think back it was 38 years ago and seeing how far things have progressed."

She ticked off a list of advancements for the Kyle area in that time.

"When you see what Lakota Funds and now the Lakota Federal Credit Union, the chamber of commerce the college expansions, Thunder valley -- there is just so much going on in this community that it's phenomenal," she said.

The Oglala Lakota Artspace is scheduled to open in spring of 2020.