BOOSTING TOURISM AND LOCAL ECONOMY

BOOSTING TOURISM AND LOCAL ECONOMY

HV Johnston Cultural Center Receives Funding for Renovations

The HV Johnston Lakota Cultural Center in Eagle Butte has received funding to renovate the building and improve services.

They were awarded a TECA grant for building renovations and upgrades. “The building has not had any major renovations since it was built in 1973,” said Trini Bird Necklace, Cultural Center Director.

Renovations include a new roof, new ceiling and kitchen repairs. “We’d like to get it back up to code,” Bird Necklace said. “It will be like a remodeled kitchen. It needs an upgrade – it’s long overdue.”

The Cultural Center was able to use its TECA grant to leverage a Tribal Ventures’ Community Development Fund Matching Grant. That grant will be used to install a touchscreen information kiosk, new show and display cases, upgrade its audio/video equipment, purchase a new computer and point-of-sale cash register system, erect signs around the reservation and restock its gift shop inventory.

“The touchscreen will have info on the murals and Cultural Center history,” Bird Necklace said.

The information kiosk will allow visitors a richer experience without requiring a guide. Billboards planned for reservation entry points are expected to increase tourism to the Cultural Center.

“I think it’s going to help with visitors,” Bird Necklace said. “A lot of visitors aren’t even aware we have a gift shop.”

The Cultural Center’s gift shop generates about $25-30,000 in sales per year in arts and crafts, craft supplies and items with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s logo. The Center expects also to use some grant monies to develop a website on which to sell gift shop items. “In the past, we’ve never had a website to promote our artists’ crafts,” said Bird Necklace. “We hope it will boost sales.”

To accommodate the expected increase in sales, the Cultural Center will use some funds to buy crafts locally during the winter. October through April generally sees much less revenue for the gift shop. Bird Necklace explains, “During the low months it’s hard to budget because we have less money coming in to buy crafts.”

Part of the Community Development Fund Grant is set aside to replenish the inventory during the off-season. This will be during a time when reservation craftspeople are also experiencing a lull in sales. “They have needs, like propane and other bills,” Bird Necklace said. “We do our best to try and help everyone.”

Currently, the gift shop only generates enough in sales to keep itself operating. “It’s a revolving account to purchase more arts and crafts and supplies,” Bird Necklace said.

The point-of-sale machine will help with accounting and inventory management, especially if internet sales generate more business, as expected. The Cultural Center will also upgrade its audio/ video equipment. “It’ll improve the sound and quality,” Bird Necklace said. “If you have up-to-date equipment, it makes a big difference.”

The refurbishments are very welcome improvements, as the Center has been getting by with minimal repairs for a long time. According to Bird Necklace, the roof got a patch job sometime in the 90s to repair leaks, which caused a lot of damage – most notably to the ceiling.

“It’s always been an issue of funding,” he said. “Now the funding is there, so things can happen.”