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Area Akta Lakota Museum additions near completion

CHAMBERLAIN -- An addition and new wing on the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain is 90 percent complete.

A climate-controlled storage facility is done and officials are moving artifacts in, but there is some work left on museum renovations and the Historical Alumni Center wing.

"The exhibit work is finished," said Dixie Thompson, director of the museum. "We have audio and video components to add to that."

St. Joseph's Indian School held a groundbreaking for the museum renovations and the alumni center in October 2011. The $3 million project is completely funded through the school's operating budget.

Thompson said the work will be complete by late March or early April, and the school plans to hold a dedication in May. The climate-controlled storage facility will better preserve artwork and historical artifacts in the museum's collection, she said.

The alumni center is meant to give all alumni of St. Joseph's a place to gather, revisit memories of their school days and honor those who attended the school. The center is a separate wing attached to the Akta Lakota Museum and will feature interactive exhibits, with many focusing on the importance of childhood and adolescence, Thompson said.

Every display has English and Lakota descriptions, and tells stories of the Plains Indians' cultures, traditions, values and history, starting in the early 1700s.

The construction also includes updates to the mini-theater and an expanded gift shop.

Once the weather warms up, construction will begin on the Medicine Wheel Garden, a place for alumni and students to meditate on healing and reconciliation.