Developers spearhead drive for Red Cloud Indian School
By Kayla Gahagan, Journal staff
Rapid City Journal - 17 December 2008
Rapid City Journal | News ยป Local | Developers spearhead drive for Red Cloud Indian School

It's not uncommon for Rapid City property developers Steve McCarthy and Don Wieseler to be chasing the same property, but the two businessmen recently put their competitiveness aside and teamed up to raise money for Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

McCarthy and Wieseler are trying raise half a million dollars by Dec. 31 to complete the fundraising of the $2.5 million high school renovation and addition currently under construction at near Pine Ridge.

Wieseler is the founder of Century Development Co. in Rapid City, and McCarthy is the owner of McCarthy Properties. McCarthy also has served on the board of directors for the Red Cloud school for more than 10 years.

The two are calling on community members and others in the business community to come forward with donations. They have raised $373,500 so far.

"The school, as well as the Jesuits, have demonstrated their ability to educate and help these Native American students, and I believe helping Native Americans to succeed and realize their dreams is a great investments in our state and in our country," Wieseler said.

Half a million dollars is ambitious, said Lori Pourier, who runs the nonprofit First Peoples Fund in Rapid City and is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Two years ago, benefactors from the Rapid City region were able to raise more than $40,000 for the students of Red Cloud Indian School.

"In terms of the Native community in general, it's a significant statement on behalf of the (Rapid City) community," she said. "Historically, it's a more challenging community to raise money from."

It might help bridge the gap between the reservation and the Rapid City community, she said.

Pourier said Pine Ridge "is only 65 miles down the road; I can get to the border line in 20 minutes from my house in Hermosa, and it seems like it's world's apart. I think there's always the perception that we want to bring businesses to Rapid, but tribal communities want to build their own economies; they want to educate at home."

Which is what is happening at the school and why it is so important to support it, McCarthy said.

"We're trying to support the best Indian high school in the U.S., as far as Don and I are concerned," he said.

Pourier is hoping other nonprofit Native American organizations and education institutions will see it as a precedent for future fundraising efforts -- and more importantly, relationships formed between Pine Ridge and Rapid City.

"Red Cloud is an example of Rapid City supporting education and youth," she said. "I think Red Cloud has a good resource base of board members in Rapid City who have good standing relationships in the community that are non-native. Hopefully, others will be able to follow the same path. I think that's a good step forward."

How you can help: To contribute to the campaign helping the Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, mail checks to: Red Cloud Indian School, 100 Mission Drive, Pine Ridge, SD 57770-2100