Native Sun News: Major changes eyed at museum with tribal items

The Journey Museum & Learning Center, located at 222 New York Street in Rapid City, with its unique aesthetic facade, is “designed to look like the Black Hills,” says museum Executive Director Troy Kilpatrick. Mayor Steve Allender is considering repurposing the city-owned building as a community support services center for those individuals living without homes. Photo by Jesse Abernathy

Mayor looks to transform Journey Museum
By Jesse Abernathy
Native Sun News Correspondent

Part One

RAPID CITY –– “Preserve, educate and explore the heritage, cultures and environment of the Black Hills region to understand our past, enrich our present and sustain our future.”

So goes the mission of The Journey Museum & Learning Center, as laid out on its website, with the key term here being “our” as it applies within the community setting.

However, Mayor Steve Allender’s vision to convert The Journey Museum & Learning Center, which is currently contained within a city-owned building on what is considered in modernity to be city-owned land, into a facility to provide services for those individuals living without homes as well as to provide other community support services, although it seeks to improve the quality of life for all of Rapid City’s citizens, may fail to balance the true sense of community that the Journey espouses as a museum located in the heart of the city, especially for Indigenous, or Native American, citizens.

Allender has suggested relocating the museum, which showcases numerous historical and contemporary Indigenous artifacts – some very rare – under the aegis of the Sioux (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota) Indian Museum, among other collections, to an area outside of Rapid City proper in order to make it more visible for the millions of tourists who pour through the Black Hills, Paha Sapa or He Sapa in Lakota, region every year.

Specifically, the mayor has indicated that U.S. Route, or Highway, 16, the stretch of road between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore National Memorial that is dotted with what are deemed tourist attractions, might be a better fit for the Journey, which he sees as primarily a tourist venue, apparently. With the closing of major attractions including Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake in Lakota) Crystal Caverns and Rushmore Waterslide Park in recent years, however, U.S. 16 is becoming less and less of a tourist swath and more and more of a business and residential development area as an extension of the southern portion of Rapid City.

In an email message to Native Sun News, the mayor explains his reasoning, and the impetus, behind the consideration of the Journey’s transformation and relocation:
“The idea originates with the fact that the Cornerstone Rescue Mission has been as high as 40% above capacity in terms of overnight clientele. This means two things: that human beings are forced to sleep on the floor and also that any agency that is operating in crisis mode is generally unable to adhere to mission objectives. In short, too many customers will devalue the service to all, over time.

“A separate issue is that of the Journey Museum. 20 years ago, taxpayers invested approximately $10 million based in part on an agreement reassuring the City that the museum would become financially self-sufficient. Clearly this has not happened as the City contributes approximately $330,000 annually to this date. The museum is underutilized in my opinion with just 35,000 visitors annually resulting in an approximate $9.00 City subsidy per customer. In Rapid City which is arguably one of the greatest tourist destinations in the country, I believe the museum would be better served, by increased visitors, if it were somewhere in the path of the millions of tourists who travel here every year. So, the idea of combining both problems in search of a common solution became the next logical step.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Mayor looks to transform Journey Museum

(Contact Jesse Abernathy at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Join the Conversation