Posted 8 months ago
By John Axtell
Almost 21 months after the groundbreaking ceremonies, dedications ceremonies were held Wednesday for a veterans cemetery on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The dedication ceremony on a hilltop east of Kyle involved Oglala Sioux tribal officials, veterans and others.
The Akicita Owicahe Lakota Freedom Veterans Cemetery is only the second tribal veterans cemetery to be built in the country since the VA opened its grant program to tribal governments. The first opened on the Rosebud Sioux reservation 2 years ago after the tribe received a $7-million dollar grant.
The OST received a $6.5-million grant for its 18-acre facility sitting on a 63-acre site. It has 320 vaults, a shelter for ashes, and a traditional burial ground where graves will be dug by hand.
The entrance features two iron gates with metal eagle feathers, a driveway lined with American flags, and an information and visitors center.
Officials expect only as many as 40 burials a year at the new cemetery. Veterans who are members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe will be able to choose between there and the Black Hills National Cemetery east of Sturgis.
In addition to burying vets who just passed away, some families may choose to moved their loved ones from another resting place to the new cemetery.