Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz Recovery Center in Leech Lake receives $850,000 for renovations
Among $8.6 million in federal funding recently announced for tribal nations and communities throughout Minnesota, $850,000 will fund renovations for Leech Lake's Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz Recovery Center.
CASS LAKE — Among $8.6 million in federal funding that was recently announced for tribal nations and communities throughout Minnesota, $850,000 will fund renovations for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz Recovery Center.
Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz, which translates to “change your way of life,” has been an aspiration for Leech Lake Nation for many years, according to Leech Lake's Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr.
“The center provides inpatient treatment in the Leech Lake Nation for our relatives who struggle with substance use disorders,” Jackson said in a release. “It provides our loved ones an opportunity to heal at home and gives them a chance to save their life and create a better one to live.”
Services include one-on-one and group counseling along with culturally infused activities and amenities including a sweat lodge. The center also has a spiritual advisor and cultural coordinator on staff.
“The goal was to have a treatment recovery center so our tribal members wouldn’t have to go off the reservation to get inpatient treatment,” Leech Lake Human Services Director Earl Robinson said. “We have available what most inpatient treatment centers would have, just with a stronger cultural focus.”
Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz was formerly a halfway house serving men that operated out of two houses south of the former Palace hotel. The center inherited the Palace hotel in 2020 following Leech Lake Nation's 2017 referendum vote to build a new casino in Cass Lake.
Operating out of its new location, the center is now in another transition to expand its services to women. A women's halfway house formerly operated in Cass Lake, as well, though it had to close due to staffing issues.
Once they secure full licensing through the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, up to 20 beds for men and 20 for women will occupy different wings of the building.
Robinson noted that the center underwent a partial renovation totaling $1.4 million that was completed around a year ago, and that the recent funding announcement will help finish the job. Further renovations will include flooring upgrades, replacement windows and new roofing.
“The funding we’re receiving will help us have the full renovation that we couldn’t afford the first time, so it’s a good deal,” Robinson added with a laugh. “We always want to make sure that we have a safe building for people that we’re helping.”
U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn., announced that she and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. helped to secure the funding that Leech Lake will receive throughout the next several months.
“For too long, Native American communities have experienced negative impacts of federal underinvestment and underfunding of critical services,” Smith said in a release. “I’m proud to have worked with tribal leaders to help secure funding for projects that will address some of these disparities.
“These are significant investments that will increase access to Indigenous health services, expand tribal housing opportunities, and invest in clean energy, carbon reduction and protecting waters. I look forward to seeing all the good these projects will do for Minnesota’s tribal and Native communities.”
Smith is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and through congressionally directed spending, has considered project proposals in coordination with leaders from across Minnesota. Leech Lake also has lobbyists at the state and federal levels.
More information on the Ahnji-Be-Mah-Diz Recovery Center can be found at www.llojibwe.org.