‘A lot of smiles and fun’: Native students visit Keystone

By Leslie Silverman

THANK YOU — Kids from Pe'sla youth group thank Keystone for a fun day filled with food, mountain coaster riding, gold panning and train riding. Scan this photo using your My Black Hills Country App to watch the kids sing a song. [PN Photo/LESLIE SILVERMAN]

About 200 Native American children from all over the state recently visited Keystone for a day of fun and fellowship.

“This day provided exposure for our kids,” said Joe Buck, caretaker of Pe’sla, the area formerly known as Reynolds Ranch. “It provided a lot of smiles and fun. Something to carry with them through their life because everyone of us has those moments in life when you remember something that was really awesome and that’s what I hope today brings for them.”

Buck came up with the idea of bringing the kids to Keystone where they were treated to a ride on the 1880 Train, gold panning and mountain coaster riding.

”My idea became reality only with the local area businesses and other people so I can’t ever say it was just me who did this because obviously that can never happen,” Buck said.

Children from Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, Crow Creek, Sisston and Rosebud enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies.

The entire meal was provided by donation from several Keystone restaurants and businesses.

“I think the biggest impact is on the kids,” said Keystone Town Board trustee Kwinn Neff as he helped serve lunch to the kids.

He was one of several town officials, who, alongside officers and representatives for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, helped to make the day a huge success for the children. The children, in return, treated volunteers to a thank you song after lunch was served.

Violet Collins, 12, of Fort Thompson, who was in Keystone for the first time, enjoyed the event.

“It was fun,” she said. “The train ride was beautiful.”

Laney Fuller, 12, from Rapid City, summed up the day with one word—“awesome.”

She even found a gold pebble while panning.

“Our whole goal in the future with this is to unite different races and if we start them young they’ll be working together when they’re older,” Buck said. “Upcoming we’re going to look forward to putting kids fresh out of high school and in college and getting them employed out here and keep the jobs local and give our Natives some job exposure.”