A former liquor store in Whiteclay has been purchased with the intent to build a makerspace for artists and crafters.

On Nov. 30, the nonprofit group, Whiteclay Makerspace, bought the Arrowhead Inn, a former bar and liquor store that was shut down in April 2017 along with the other liquor stores in Whiteclay.

Whiteclay is just south of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Liquor stores there sold nearly 4 million cans of beer a year, fueling alcoholism, homelessness, assault and murder in the area. The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission did not renew the licenses of the stores.

Organizers say the makerspace is the first step towards a new Whiteclay. It will provide career and income stability while meeting artistic needs for supplies, studio space, and a fair-priced market.

The 501(c)(3) Whiteclay Makerspace is now fundraising to pay for renovations, equipment and an online store, with the goal of launching operations in 2019.

“Whiteclay can be famous for good, not for bad,” said Tom Brewer, a Nebraska state senator  and member of the Oglala Sioux tribe

“Our ancestors worked with their hands… alot of the people have lost that because of the alcohol,” said Norma Blacksmith, a nationally recognized quilter and a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe. “They (the artists) need 100% support, they need someone to be there for them.”

For more info or to donate to the effort, click HERE.