By Molly Miron, Special to the Pioneer
RED LAKE – By the fall of 2014, the Red Lake Nation will revolve around a new hub.
The Red Lake Nation College and Red Lake Government Center will occupy buildings north of the powwow grounds on the bluff above Red Lake itself.
The front elevation of the matching buildings will bear the silhouettes of wing-spread eagles. The $21.4 million USDA Rural Development loans were approved this month – more than $11.3 million for the 42,000-square-foot tribal college and $10.1 million for the 27,400-square-foot government center. The tribal college is now situated in an annex to the Humanities Center, and the government center in the former hospital on the rise above Pike Creek.
“I was born in this hospital,” said Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., noting it is outdated and worthy of condemnation due to asbestos and bad air issues. The new center will provide a safer location and allow the tribe to operate out of a central location.
Jourdain said the Red Lake Nation has been working toward funding the new buildings for several years.
“We’ve been hoping to further our educational pursuits and also government,” he said. “Investing in both at the same time.”
“Construction of these new buildings will help create jobs in an area with high unemployment and will be a source of pride for the Red Lake Nation,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in a press release.
“Here at Red Lake, this is something we’ve been striving for many years, and it’s finally coming to fruition,” Jourdain said.
Jourdain and Red Lake Nation College President Dan King give credit to staff members who have worked on the proposals, especially Director of Development Eugene McArthur. McArthur said he and King began developing a master plan for the tribe in 1995. The designs and successful loans completion for the new college and government center also benefited from community, Tribal Council members’ and Hereditary Chiefs’ input. King said they are also seeking donors for naming rights to various facilities on campus.
“The vision(s) of the college and government center are all about striving for excellence,” said King.
Designed by DSGW architects of Duluth, the new college will feature 14 classrooms – up from the current three – a 5,330-square-foot library, tribal archives center, Ojibwe Language and Culture Center, Ojibwe language immersion head start and daycare for up to 60 children, fitness center, auditorium and sweat lodge. The college facilities will be open to the public, King said.
Red Lake Nation College currently enrolls 130 students; the new campus will have a 500-student capacity. King said courses are now accredited through the Leech Lake Tribal College, but he hopes to have full Red Lake Nation College accreditation sometime in 2013.
In addition to the new buildings, Jourdain said the project will include a new powwow grounds, walking trails along the lake and a Veterans Park honoring all Red Lakers who have served in U.S. Armed Forces. The park will feature black granite monuments for inscribing names of living and deceased service personnel with plenty of room for additions in the future.