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Sia Eagle Center in danger of closing

[Source KSWO] [Source KSWO]

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- The Sia Eagle Center in Cyril is in danger of shutting down because of a funding crisis.

It houses rare birds, and other artifacts connected to the culture and history of the Comanche Nation, since its opening in 2000. 

The center operates largely on donations because any funding that comes directly from the tribe must be approved by Comanche voters during their annual budget election.

Voters approved $200,000 in funding in 2015, but last October, the proposal failed to get enough support.

Now the center is facing consequences, the power at the center was cut off February 9th.

 

Sia Co-founder and Executive Director Bill Voelker said it's become virtually impossible to get help from others without the support of the tribe behind them.

"I've had to turn some of our people away,” said Voelker. “We’re constantly out trying to raise funds from other services and doing everything we can even other kinds of work to bring money in. Basically, it's down to keeping the lights on and paying for eagle food."

He said the focus of the center is dedicated to the history of the eagle through cultural understanding, science, and spirit.

However, that focus has switched to raising approximately $260,000 in hopes of keeping the center up and running, a number Voelker said they simply cannot reach alone.

"We will shut things down piece by piece,” said Voelker. “We have a very large footprint. We have a non-eagle repository from eagles in addition to eagle programs and cultural archives. The core of Sia will maintain no matter what because this is our life works that extend over 4 decades but our services for our people have certainly wind down."

Those services include tourism, educational outreach programs and distribution of feathers.

Voelker said if they're forced to close, it will impact the community but more importantly the eagles.

“It's a critical time because we are at the time of year where we hatch young,” said Voelker. “We have a bald eagle hatching that is two days old, other birds ready to lay eggs and some of which we won't even put in that situation."

Cyril Mayor Brad Alexander said he's equally concerned about the preservation of the eagles and the center, however, state laws prevent the town of Cyril from providing funding.

"I mean this is a big thing,” said Alexander. “It brings in tourism, it helps education with students. It helps native American children who want to know more about their culture they can have that here. they don’t have that in other places. This is a big star for our town."

 

Voelker said he’s keeping the hope alive.


"We've established the public center for our people and our dedication is to the ancestry those generations that went before us,” said Voelker. “It’s wonderful that we can help our living Comanche’s today but our dedication is to our historic ancestry so that can't change."

The Sia Eagle Center is accepting donations. You can find more details on how to donate by visiting their website at http://www.comancheeagle.org/

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