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“We're All Connected” Research Facility Building Sacred Circle Garden To Honor Indigenous Culture

Staci Miller and KC Russell at the site of the future Sacred Circle Garden

Much of the work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility is thousands of feet below the surface. 

But one of the latest projects is above ground: a garden honoring Native American history in the Black Hills.

The garden will sit on top of a hillside in Lead, near the entrance to the facility. KC Russell is the facility's cultural and diversity coordinator. He said the location is important.

“This is a homeland. They have been here for hundreds of years. And the Black Hills has provided sustenance for all the tribes,” he said.

Sacred Circle Garden is the English translation of Cangleska Wakan. Russell said the finished project will feature native plants and a medicine wheel.? 

“It has four colors and a circle. And it represents the four directions that Native Americans use for gardening and their migration back and forth,” he said.

The four directions point to significant nearby landmarks: Bear Butte, the Badlands, Devil’s Tower, and Black Elk Peak. Russell hopes the garden sends a positive message. 

“The sacred circle, the circle of life, also tells us we're all connected in some way,” he said. “Even the animals are connected to us.” 

The project is donor-funded, with about half of the $800,000 cost raised so far. The garden will include a walking path around the medicine wheel and benches for the public to sit. Final plans are still in development.  

Staci Miller is the foundation director. She says the project has been a long time coming.? 

“The site itself comes down to the three words on our web page: protecting, respecting and understanding,” she said.

The project will begin next spring or summer. The Sacred Circle Garden will host educational programs and be open to the public.?