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Philanthropy -- Women’s shelter expands with help from Shakopee

KYLE, S.D. – A crowded domestic violence shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation will expand with the help of tribes that have the means to be generous.

Cangleska, one of the nation’s premier domestic violence programs, will expand its shelter to assist an ever-increasing number of women and their families who seek shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation and from elsewhere.

With the help of a $500,000 donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the infrastructure for the building is in place and the money can be leveraged to acquire the additional $2.4 million needed to complete the project.

It is the goal of Cangleska to have the facility open by late fall this year.

The remainder of the money will come from donations, but federal grants and loans will also contribute to the financial pool.

The Shakopee community has contributed more than $70 million over the years to assist such projects as Cangleska and other socially based organizations where the money can help the most people, Shakopee officials say.

“Shakopee made it all happen,” said Karen Artichoker, co-manager of Cangleska.

Other funding comes from the Rural Development Corporation and Native American Bank in the form of a loan.

Prairie Island Sioux Community in Minnesota has also been a contributor to Cangleska, with a $25,000 donation in 2001.

A good portion of the funds will come from individual donations. Artichoker said the $5 donations add up.

Artichoker said without the dedication of the past two Oglala presidents, John Steele and Cecelia Fire Thunder, the shelter expansion would not have taken place. Fire Thunder, she said, moved the funding along. The initial funds from Shakopee were awarded through the tribe, and Fire Thunder initiated the contact with Shakopee to make the donation happen.

“She sees the impact on the tribe with the social programs,” Artichoker said.

The Cangleska model is used throughout Indian country to set up shelters and domestic violence education and intervention programs. Cangleska began in 1989 at the time the Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress and included American Indian tribes to participate in grant awards.

The new facility will be a multiple-use facility with families and offices under the same roof. Amenities will include tile flooring that will be heated with a geothermal system.

Families will have plenty of lounge room, and children will be treated to indoor and outdoor play facilities.

The building will be “really nice,” Artichoker said.

Since the initial design was created a few years ago, the cost of materials has risen, but Artichoker said they will be as thrifty as they can be.

Tribal land is hard to come by on Pine Ridge, and when it is found and can be leased for more than five years the question of infrastructure looms large. Many organizations or businesses had to construct their own systems.

The Medicine Root District, where Cangleska is located, donated the land for the new facility and its close proximity to existing water and sewer lines was an advantage.

The original shelter is located in a tribally owned building, and even before it opened in 1997 women would ask if they could stay there.

“Cangleska is making a small contribution to rebuilding a nation,” Artichoker said.

Visit the Cangleska Web site,, to learn more about the program and view the floor plans of the new facility. Furniture and other amenities are needed and Cangleska is seeking donations of either funds or materials.