- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

FORT PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Fort Pierre and tribal officials are trying to find ways to maintain an unfinished Sioux Nation complex in the city that is drawing complaints because of overgrown lawns and dilapidated structures.

The Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place was to be a Sioux cultural, educational and legal resource site, but federal funding dried up almost a decade ago and it’s been vacant since. Neighbors have begun to complain about tall grass, fallen lodge poles and piles of unused construction materials attracting nuisance animals such as skunks, the Capital Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1TAsZWP ).

“It’s kind of an eyesore to see those things not being taken care of,” City Councilman Todd Bernhard said.

Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association Executive Director Gay Kingman said the group discussed the issue earlier this month and formed a committee to work out how to finish the facility and maintain the grounds in the meantime.

“The chairmen did address it and it will be taken care of,” she said.

Congress designated the 12-acre site as tribal trust land in the early 2000s, and the city is worried about being sued should something go wrong if it helps the tribal group with maintenance and repairs.

“If those poles fall down on someone, they could come after us,” City Councilman Kevin Gabriel said.

The City Council decided this week to wait to help until it can find a way to protect the city from any liability.

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This story has been corrected to attribute the quote in the seventh paragraph to Kevin Gabriel, not Randy Seiler.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

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