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South Dakota tribal meeting facility remains unfinished

FORT PIERRE (AP) — A federally funded facility north of Fort Pierre intended for tribal meetings remains unfinished.

Construction began on the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place in the early 2000s but didn't finish as scheduled in 2010, the Capital Journal reported. The facility was intended to be a place that all nine tribes in South Dakota could use.

Fort Pierre and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe have tried to refurbish portions of the structure. Neither have the millions of dollars needed to complete the project.

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe has been working to generate interest among the state's other tribes to spark the revitalization of the facility, said Remi Bald Eagle, a spokesman for the tribe.

The building is furnished and has electric service, Bald Eagle said. Ad hoc tribal meetings are held at the facility about once every two months, Bald Eagle said.

Bald Eagle said the facility was meant to serve as a physical symbol of the reconciliation process between Native Americans and non-Native American people.

"It was a great start and great concept but it's only half done. What was started should be finished — that would go a long ways toward reconciliation," Bald Eagle said.

The unfinished wing was intended to hold a supreme court system for several of the tribes, which currently have their own specific laws and policies.

In 2002, Bill Fischer, then-president of the American State Bank in Pierre, said creating a supreme court for all the tribes would help bring about uniformity and credibility to the system.