Arikara Center opens
By CHERYL ODDEN
After several years of planning and construction, a unique building is open in White Shield.
Dancing Eagle, director of the Arikara Cultural Center, describes the facility; "It’s a modern re-working of a traditional Arikara earth lodge." Before the influence of non-natives, earth lodges were used as living quarters and for sacred ceremonies. In keeping with tradition, the main entrance of the cultural center faces east.
The center, designed by Denby Deegan, an architect and White Shield native, includes a custom-designed tile floor. Designed by Deegan, the floor design is an artistic interpretation of things important to the Arikara people. Included are a cedar tree to represent Mother Corn, her leadership and lessons on how her people should live. Dancing Eagle described Mother Corn as an interceptor between the people and the Chief who sits above (God). Lines of brown tile, representing the tree’s roots, extend from the center of the Cedar tree and circle around it. The top of the circle remains open to signify that life’s tasks are never finished
The circular floor design includes a base of blue to represent the Missouri River, important to the survival of the Arikara. Dancing Eagle said the main concept of the floor emblem is "always go west; never turn back."