Leech Lake Adopting Thunderbird Design

Aug 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-1: Sovereignty in Indian Country, Tribal College News

Leech Lake Tribal College(LLTC) has broken ground for a new campus, an especially important milestone for the college, which has been operating in five unsuitable buildings spread throughout the downtown area of Cass Lake, MN.

Interim President Leah Carpenter said at the groundbreaking in April that she is “absolutely sure” that enrollment will rise once the college is completed. “If we put them in a good place, encourage them to learn, then they’ll walk out as proud students,” she said. “This is a great day for the college and for Leech Lake. Leech Lake Tribal College stands as a symbol of hope for the people and as a strong symbol of cultural integrity,” she said.

The other tribal college employees are apparently also enthusiastic about moving out of the old buildings. Nearly 80% of the employees contributed to the capital campaign through biweekly payroll deductions, according to the college newsletter.

The groundbreaking began with the offering of tobacco, with Dewey Goodwin lighting an ornate pipe, pointing it in all four directions and downward, according to the Cass Lake Times. “Today we gather to show respect to Mother Earth in reverence to the great project being done here for the betterment of the people..It has been a long time waiting to see this project begin,” he said.

The new campus is designed to appear as a thunderbird from above, with two “wings” consisting of classrooms and offices, a “body” that will house administrative offices and a food service area, a “head” or commons area that will connect the two wings and the body, and a “tail” that will house a community center and gymnasium.

The campus will be built in phases as the funds are raised. Construction of Phase I will allow the college to vacate the old school building and the church and parsonage it has been using. Some of the buildings have outdated plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. Some are infested with mold or mildew, and others contain asbestos or lead. Phase 1 should be completed by November 2004.

LLTC has raised the $3 million to build Phase One from a variety of sources, including $1.5 million from the American Indian College Fund and lesser amounts from U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and several small grant sources.

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