Whiteclay Makerspace

For many, many years the “town” of Whiteclay, Nebraska, just over the line from Pine Ridge, South Dakota was a place that wreaked havoc on the lives of all the Lakota people. Population 12, but they had four liquor stores that sold over four million cans of high alcohol beer a year to the Lakota who live on a dry reservation…where alcoholism touches 80% of the families. A long story, but the four liquor stores were finally closed down in the spring of 2017, with help from our friends Bruce & Marsha BonFleur who lived there for 20 years.

Immediately there were redevelopment plans in place so as not to leave a vacuum where worse evil could come in. (see Matthew 12:43-45)

A lot of good things are happening there now! One of them is the Whiteclay Makerspace! Attorney Jon Ruybalid (a strong Christian who we have met and gotten to know) purchased one of the empty liquor stores and, together with a team of Lakota people, has renovated the building to be a Makerspace. They are now open for business and have online commerce as well!

Makerspace facilities exist all over the USA. (Definition: a place in which people with shared interests can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. They provide hands-on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.)

While a Makerspace is not necessarily a Christian ministry, this one is owned and managed by Lakota Christians!

With unemployment (even during good times) at 85 to 90% across the reservation, and with 60% of the people identifying as some kind of artisan, this will create jobs where there are no jobs!

It is extremely hard for many of the Lakota people to get up to Rapid City to buy supplies for their crafts, such as beads for the beautiful bead work they make. And most cannot afford to personally own the long-arm sewing machines that are necessary for the making of star quilts, a Lakota specialty. Other tools, such as those for woodworking, or personal computers, are not often affordable to these people. But a Makerspace will have the tools, the supplies, the computers to market their products worldwide, and the opportunities to teach their unique crafts to the next generation as well as to local white people from South Dakota and Nebraska…thereby also helping with race relations.