Native Sun News: Sioux Indian Museum affected by city proposal

With ridges made to emulate the peaks of the Paha Sapa or He Sapa, Lakota terms for the Black Hills, The Journey Museum & Learning Center sign greets visitors as they turn the corner to the museum’s alcoved campus from New York Street in Rapid City. Mayor Steve Allender is entertaining the idea of relocating the Cornerstone Rescue Mission, which provides services including nightly shelter to those individuals living without homes, to the city-owned Journey building, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area proper. Photo by Jesse Abernathy

Mayor looks to transform Journey Museum
Community centerpiece could become facility to house those without homes
By Jesse Abernathy
Native Sun News Correspondent

Part One

RAPID CITY –– In recent weeks, Mayor Steve Allender has made public his 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.

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 Museum, which he sees as primarily a tourist venue, apparently.

Following its establishment almost 20 years ago, the Journey was shrouded in controversy, almost entirely due to its inability to generate the funding that the city expected it to, which was primarily blamed on its geography.

“There was an outside consulting service that came in and provided the numbers of what they thought this museum could generate for attendance. They estimated that this place could do over 300,000 in attendance in a year. And that was based in their minds ... off of a percentage of the traffic to Mount Rushmore,” explains Troy Kilpatrick, The Journey Museum & Learning Center executive director. “There’s a lot of businesses that can make money off of a percentage of traffic to Mount Rushmore. The reality is, though, the number came in far less, and so then the criticisms or the frustrations in the community evolved around the perceived lack of success that the museum had,” he adds.

Some Rapid Citians, inclusive of several city officials, still contend that the Journey is difficult to locate for both tourists and residents alike.

But, counters Kilpatrick, “We’re just two blocks behind the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, and really, people finding us isn’t the issue that some in the community still perceive. But the reality is that everybody knows where the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is, and they can find the Journey if they want to. And hopefully, we’re giving them enough reasons to come to the museum these days.”

The Journey’s cultural and community, as well as fiscal, significance at its current locale is heightened by the fact that in addition to regularly holding its own community education and outreach events, particularly for schoolchildren and some of which are free of charge, it hosts year-round events for outside entities, most recently including the Black Hills Film Festival and the HOPE (Helping Others through Prayer and Encouragement) Center’s second annual silent auction fundraiser, the “Search for HOPE.” The HOPE Center is a walk-in day facility that provides unduplicated, unique and crucial services, including communications – mail, telephone, computer and Internet access – support, a no-charge laundry facility and shelter from the elements, for individuals living without homes and in poverty.

In 2015, the Journey hosted a total of 7,457 guests as a community event center, an uptick from 2014, which saw 6,342 total guests hosted, according to official museum statistics.

This is the final installment in a two-part series.

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

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