Preserving history: New plans for Culture Center progressing

An idea that has been in the works for years can finally come to fruition as the Wyandotte Nation received a key grant to move forward on plans for a Culture Center.
The 6,620-square foot Culture Center will be located on the old Indian school site just south and west of the Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center.
“This is a giant step for our Nation,” said Sherri Clemons, Tribal Heritage Director. “The dreams we and those before us have had to not only house the many artifacts the Nation already has, but also the ones people are holding onto until there was a place to safely keep them.
“This is so wonderful for the future of our history.”
The Wyandotte Nation applied for and received an Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) through HUD. The $800,000 grant will cover most of the cost for the $1.474 million project. The rest will come from tribal funds ($434,285) and through the Indian Reservation Roads Funds ($240,000).
Wyandotte Nation Planning Specialist Debbie Dry said the grant is highly competitive and awarded just once every year. She said the center could include an auditorium, library, conference room, kitchen, a saferoom to store artifacts and educational classrooms as well as house the tribal historic office.
Ron Kaiser, Senior Advisor in the Planning Department, said the Culture Center will also likely feature geothermal heating and cooling, making the building energy efficient.
“Over time, there has always been this desire to have a museum or someplace where the tribe had the ability to display and store artifacts of the tribe,” Kaiser said, adding that during that time, the idea of building a culture center rather than a museum came about.
“The idea was that the tribal community would have a place for learning Wyandotte culture, teaching Wyandotte culture and explaining Wyandotte culture. And that has been an objective in this process.”
Kaiser said the next step in the process is for the planning group, of which he is a part of, to visit other culture centers for ideas. That process has already begun as the committee has visited several museums and other culture centers.

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