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Ponemah facility receives funding

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa will receive more than $1 million in federal stimulus funds to construct a community center at Ponemah.

The announcement came Tuesday from U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, as he met with the Red Lake Tribal Council.

The award includes an $809,000 loan and $250,000 as a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal economic stimulus package.

The Red Lake funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development's Community Facility Projects, according to a tribal statement. It will be used to construct a community center that will also be used as a library, and to purchase equipment."

The 16,000 square foot facility is estimated at $3 million.

The announcement of the award was delayed from Aug. 10 when Peterson was scheduled to visit, but was canceled when Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee was called into session.

"I'm meeting with the Tribal Council and they're going to show me a couple of their new buildings," Peterson said in an interview prior to heading up to Red Lake for his afternoon meeting with the council.

Work has been completed on soje projects that Peterson had worked on, and the tribe wanted to show him that progress, he said. It includes a juvenile detention center, housed in a jail facility built about nine years ago but laid vacant because the Bureau of Indian Affairs refused to make it operational.

"We've had some earmarks in for them, but it's a tough time to get earmarks," Peterson said of seeking funding for other Red Lake projects. "It's not popular."

But the Red Lake Nation has been holding its own, he said. "They've been OK, and Buck's been doing a good job," he said, referring to Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain.

"They've been relatively happy that we've been able to get them a little bit here and there and some help," Peterson said.

"Mostly I'm just going on up there to get up to speed on everything that's going on," he said.

One issue involves transmission lines across tribally owned land at the Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods. In exchange for permission to cross tribal lands, the tribe seeks some land exchanges with the state, Peterson said.

"We're working on that," he said.

"I've been trying to get up their all summer, and we had this set up in August," Peterson said.