Leech Lake Benefits From Mdewakanton Sioux Gift

Nov 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 15-2: Reclaiming Native Health, Tribal College News

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has given a $1 million grant to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, part of which the tribe has given to the Leech Lake Tribal College. The tribal council will use the gift to help fight poverty through education and services on the north-central Minnesota reservation. More than 6,200 people live on the Leech Lake Reservation, where the unemployment rate is roughly 30%. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Prior Lake, southwest of the Twin Cities, operates the highly successful Mystic Lake Casino.

Leech Lake Tribal College President Lenee Ross said the college received $250,000 from the Shakopee grant, which will be used for operating funds. A high priority for the money will be fixing leaky roofs, Ross said. The college now has high maintenance costs since it operates in five separate buildings: a church, high school, parsonage, and some offices leased from the tribe. “It’s a constant battle to keep these running,” he said.

Ross plans to eventually have the college in one new building. The college has launched a capital campaign and has received commitments for $2 million, which represents 90% of the funds necessary for Phase I. The first phase includes classroom and faculty office space. The entire project will cost $20 million. The donation from the Shakopee will help the college focus its energy on its capital campaign. “I am grateful to the Shakopee and to our Leech Lake Tribal Council for assisting us. The council has always been very supportive of our efforts. Education is a top priority for the tribe,” Ross said.

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