CASS LAKE-Winds of change started blowing 25 years ago when Larry P. Aitken proposed the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe open a tribal college in Cass Lake. Those winds continued to blow across the land Friday as guest speakers hailed the college founder during a naming ceremony for the new Leech Lake Tribal College library.

Aitken, whose Ojibwe name Bezhigoogahbow, means "the one who stands alone," spoke with humor and humility before a crowd of colleagues, family and friends.

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"But I don't stand alone," Aitken said. "All these gentlemen here helped me."

Rep. LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks III, LLBO Dist. 3, informed Aitken of the intention to name the building "Bezhigoogahbow Agindasoowigamig" two weeks ago. Agindasoowigamig is "library" in Ojibwemowin. At first Aitken didn't immediately say yes. He thought it over for a few days and accepted the honor.

"I thought it was a pretty good honor," Aitken said. "Out of nothing came something good, and I'm really proud and happy to be part of it."

Aitken said the idea to begin the Leech Lake Tribal College sprouted during a rally in 1990 against the Beltrami, Itasca and Cass County deputies because the people on the Leech Lake Reservation did not feel they were adequately protected. Aitken said homes were being broken into, items were being stolen and county sheriff's offices could not respond in time.

"I had some great help," Aitken said. "I just started the idea."

The idea was a tribal police force, "brown faces in blue uniforms," Aitken said. In order to start the squad, they needed a place to train tribal police-a tribal college. Aitken approached the tribal council and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe established Leech Lake Tribal College. At first courses were offered in extension from other colleges. About five years later LLTC was opened in the old Cass Lake High School. The core discipline, law enforcement, remains today and has been joined by nine additional areas of study in associate degree programs.

Aitken has been a spiritual advisor and tribal historian for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe for two decades. He attended college at BSU, majoring in psychology and sociology and earned a master's degree in education administration from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Aitkn has taught philosophy, history and Ojibwe language and is an accomplished author.

"I'm so excited for all of you to have come here to pay honor and respect to Bezhigoogahbow," said LLTC board member Vickie Howard. "You think of servant leadership and the motto that goes all the way back to our ancestors and what we can do to serve our people ... and that's what Bezhigoogahbow has demonstrated and modeled throughout his life here at Leech Lake."

Speakers at Friday's ceremony included interim LLTC president Ginny Carney, LLTC board member Vickie Howard, LeRoy Staples-Fairbanks, Rep. John Persell, retired president of the National Indian Education Association William Antell and retired President of American Indian Higher Education Consortium Carty Monette. Michael Smith, a former schoolmate and lifelong friend of Aitken's, performed the ceremonial blessing following an opening by the Leech Lake Tribal College Drum.

Antell praised Aitken for his work in Ojibwe language preservation. Monette shared a story of Aitken's compassion.

"I'm going to tell you a story about Larry Aitken and Billy Mills," Monette said.

Aitken attended Haskell Indian Nations University were Mills, who would become an Olympic gold medalist, also attended. Both men earned lettermen's jackets but Mills, like many students attending Haskell, came from a poor background and could not afford to buy a lettermen's jacket. Mills went on to make a name for himself as a runner.

"Two years later at Haskell, Billy Mills came back and Larry Aitken was there," Monette said. "Larry took his jacket and gave it to Billy Mills ... I tell that story because it illustrates very clearly the type of individual Larry is."

Aitken was presented with a plaque that will be hung at the library, as well as a blanket as the naming ceremony came to a close and people started filtering into the Bezhigoogahbow Agindasoowigamig.

Aitken said the new state-of-the-art facility levels the field for students attending the college close to home. The Bezhigoogahbow Agindasoowigamig provides a place for students to study, research and work with research assistants and librarians.

Bezhigoogahbow Agindasoowigamig Director of Library Services Hannah Buckland has seen the transition from the previous approximately 900 square-foot library on the Leech Lake Tribal College campus to the new 8,000-plus square-foot building. The cost to create the new facility was approximately $2.7 million. The former library in the main college has been converted into a work room for lectures, speakers and community training.

"It gets a lot more use than the old one did," Buckland said. "On average we serve about 100 people a day."

The facility features a classroom, meeting space, public computer terminals and more than 6,000 books in addition to an e-book library and catalogs for CDs, DVDs and software. Buckland said the library is open to the community. Library hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.