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Mdewakanton Sioux makes $1 million grant for construction at Red Lake Boys & Girls Club

The Red Lake Nation is $1 million closer to building a new Boys & Girls Club.

Last month, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community presented the Red Lake Band of Chippewa the grant for the youth activities center. The Red Lake Boys & Girls Club currently meets at the Red Lake Middle School and the Ponemah School.

Director Dawn Huseby said the Red Lake club serves 602 members and the satellite Ponemah club serves 130.

The $1 million Mdewakanton Sioux grant brings the fund-raising for new buildings to $2 million toward the $5 million goal.

"We hope to break ground within the next couple of months," Huseby said of the building plans. Although the main club building will be in Red Lake, she said the board of directors has not yet named the site.

Huseby said there are schematic drawings of the planned building. Phase One will feature a 17,516-square foot building in Red Lake, with a second phase of 19,186 square feet. She said they plan to build a smaller club building in Ponemah, as well.

The presentation of the grant took place March 15 with Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., the Mdewakanton Sioux Business Council and Red Lake youth and staff at the Mdewakanton Sioux Community Center in Prior Lake.

The Mdewakanton Sioux Community uses gaming and non-gaming businesses to pay for internal infrastructure such as housing, roads, water and sewer systems and emergency services.

The tribe has also donated more than $56 million to other Indian nations and non-profit organizations.

"We appreciate that the Red Lake Tribal Council wants to make life better for its members," said Mdewakanton Sioux Chairman Stanley Crooks in a press release. "It is very important to us to help other Indian people, particularly the youth. They are the best hope for their nation's future. Boys & Girls Clubs provide a valuable service, and we are pleased we have the resources to reach out and help, especially this program for youth."

In a letter to the Mdewakanton Sioux, Jourdain cited the remote location, high unemployment rate and alcohol and drug abuse which have led to high rates of school truancy, drop-outs and suicide on the Red Lake Reservation.

"I once said if I ever became chairman, I'd try to find some way to build a recreational facility for youth," Jourdain said.