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City closes shelter for Natives amid arctic freeze

RAPID CITY, S.D. – As temperatures dipped below zero Friday, January 12, Rapid City officials decided to close a makeshift warming shelter that was to serve Indigenous homeless people.

Two Native-serving nonprofits – Woyatan Lutheran Church and Wambli Ska Society – had planned to open the military grade warming tent as an additional shelter. But Friday afternoon, city administrators issued a stop work notice to organizers.

“When city staff went to the property to issue an order not to proceed with the use of that tent, it was with the acknowledgment that the permits had not been secured, but that we had a bigger crisis on hand,” said Vicki Fisher, Rapid City community development director. “We have a cold spree that we've not experienced in a long time. And we have a lot of vulnerable people that need to be sheltered. So the message was you don't need to take down a tent. Just please don't use it. It is so frigid that the action of trying to heat it would put those people in jeopardy of a fire.”


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