Little Big Horn Makes Way For Health and WellnessNov 15th, 2010 | By tcj | Category: 22-2: Crossing Borders, Winter 2010, Health & Wellness, Tribal College News
Little Big Horn College (LBHC, Crow Agency, MT) broke ground in July 2010 for an $8 million health and wellness center. The new center is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver environmental guidelines and improve health education on the Crow Reservation.
Cancer is the leading cause of death on the Crow Reservation, and more than 14% of the population suffers from diabetes—that’s about 8% more than non-Natives. Diabetics are two- to four-times more likely to suffer from strokes and heart disease, according to Carrie McCleary of LBHC. Not only that, but obesity is a big problem. All these diseases may be preventable or managed more successfully with diet and exercise, McCleary says.
LBHC president Dr. David Yarlott (Crow/Korean) says the project is a collaboration with the Crow Reservation community. The initial $3 million for the building project came from a Title III grant, and the Crow Tribe assisted by clearing the building site.
Dean of Administration David Small says the LEED Silver status goes hand in hand with LBHC’s plans to eventually produce wind and solar power. “We’d like to be a zero net gain campus,” he says. “This building will be the start of it.” He points out that the library, completed in August 2009, was considered “green” but that the new building will actually be LEED certified. Architectural and engineering staff at the ceremony also emphasized the connection between Native values and environmentally sound building practices.
Representatives from the LBHC Board of Trustees, Big Horn County Commissioners office, and LBHC personnel took part in the ceremony, which began with prayers from staff member Marlon Passes. Yarlott then asked 10 individuals to break the ground using 10 shovels. “Ten is significant,” he says. “In our culture, 10 is a complete number, and what we are symbolizing is a complete building with no glitches and no mishaps.”
Yarlott then invited other community members present to participate, saying the building was a community effort for community use and education. “I hope we will be able to utilize this building next summer sometime.”
The $8 million plan is the sixth building project undertaken by Yarlott. Phase I created a space for aerobics rooms, a classroom, and meeting areas. Phase II of the building plan includes constructing a full-sized gymnasium to house the Little Big Horn Rams basketball program; Phase III completes the project with the construction of a swimming pool.