Santee tribe looking to future with new center

January 12, 2019

SANTEE — As sage burned, Santee Sioux Nation Tribal members led a dedicated group of people chanting a traditional Santee prayer.

The Santee Sioux Nation was eager to bless the location of a new Family Resource Center on Thursday here in Santee and break ground for its construction.

“We are blessed to have this project being completed here in Santee,” said Roger Trudell, tribal chairman. “This is a very positive venture between the State of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and it shows what can be done when people come together in a positive way.

The resource center project, spearheaded by Misty Frazier, has been in the works for over three years. Frazier worked closely with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) as well as the Sherwood Foundation to make the dream a reality.

“The NCFF staff came to us and asked what could they do to help because the tribe does not have the funding opportunities other communities across the state have,” she said.

That was just one example of the many organizations that have contributed time and expertise to this particular project. The Santee Sioux Nation also worked closely with a group of graduate students in the field of architecture from the University of Nebraska to design the building.

“I don’t know if we dug enough ground for the footings,” Frazier said with a laugh as the tribal council members and officials from the NCFF struggled to break ground Thursday at the ceremony in the frigid January weather.

Frazier started working on the project when she was with the social services department with the tribe. She continued to work on the idea of a family resource center as she moved to the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition.

“We tried to imagine ourselves as a child who has been traumatized and then faces a ride in a car to Norfolk or Sioux City, wondering if they will ever come back to their family and what will happen to them,” Frazier said. “Our hope is for this center and its staff to be able to assist in these situations.”

Other opportunities that will be available for tribal members will be parenting classes, foster parenting and art therapy classes, Fritz said. Supervised visitation will also be conducted at the center.

A second phase included a playground with a privacy fence behind the facility. That will allow families will be able to play together under the watchful eyes of staff.

“I’ve been around a long time and I understand what the mental wellness of our young people can mean for our future,” Trudell said. “The more things we can do to create a sense of wellness among our younger people, the more successful the tribe will be in the future.”

It’s been a long time since the tribal members have been able to stand together as one and bless a project that will have such a positive impact on tribal members, Trudell said.

Because the Santee Sioux Nation is located so far north, tribal members are concerned they are forgotten. The hope is that the success of this project will lead to more positive developments for the northern tribe.

Trudell said he also believes that while the tribe has developed financially, it has not developed socially.

“By working jointly with state organizations in activities such as this family resource center, groups who are interested in working with us as we are interested in working with them, we can continue to come together to create a better atmosphere for our young people,” Trudell said.

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