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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Sending a positive message

The importance education plays in our lives can’t be overstated.

That’s one reason the campaign pledge by LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III, elected last summer as the new District 3 representative on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Council, is so admirable.

Recently Staples-Fairbanks donated the first installment from his office earnings toward a $50,000 scholarship endowment at Leech Lake Tribal College.

He grew up poor, but recognizes the role education plays in empowering lives and making generational differences.

“I know what education can do for you,” said Staples-Fairbanks, who himself did not complete college. “Education is the most important thing you can do for yourself.”

The college has received additional donations in response to Staples-Fairbanks’ pledge. Several families have inquired about contributing toward the fund or establishing a similar endowment.

“Part of the college vision statement is that we want our students to become lifelong learners,” said Kyle Erickson, director of advancement at LLTC. “We thought this would be a good, concrete way of showing that.”

Staples-Fairbanks pledge is unique and it sends a positive message for motivated students.

New college, team

Education and opportunities also are valued at Red Lake Nation College, where President Dan King is leading the institution into new territory.

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.

Currently, RLNC enrolls 130 students. A new campus, highlighted by a new 42,000-square-foot building, will have a 500-student capacity.

In addition, 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.

Recently, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa also rebuilt the Humanities Center, including in it what is now a regulation-size basketball court.

It will serve as home to the college’s basketball team, which leaders there plan to form by 2014.

Red Lake is making significant investments in its facilities and opportunities for students’ education.

Red Lake leaders should be commended on their investment and the emphasis on education.