Red Lake Nation College Opens New Campus

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: 27-2: American Indian Law, Tribal College News

    With its wings outstretched, the migizi welcomes students, community members, and visitors to Red Lake Nation College’s new state-of-the-art campus. Photo by Dan King

After five years of planning, negotiating, and building, Red Lake Nation College’s (RLNC) new campus is open. The $21.4 million college and governmental center is situated on the southern shore of Red Lake and features state-state-of-the-art facilities and awe-inspiring architecture. The new campus underscore’s Red Lake Nation’s commitment to education and investing in the future.

“We’re looking at the long-term future,” says RLNC president Dan King. “It was a unanimous decision, not one person voted against it. . . . We wanted to do this and we wanted to do it now. We didn’t want to wait ten years.”

The Red Lake community was also committed to a facility that embodied Ojibwe culture and pride. Both the college and governmental center buildings feature the migizi, or bald eagle, with its wings spread, spanning the entire length of the 300-foot facility. King explains that tribal members didn’t want typical square box architecture. Instead, they voted for a design that would inspire people. “There’s a special feeling when you see those eagles,” he says. “It reminds people to be strong and have courage.”

The new facilities have not only inspired people, but they have also attracted more students. The college experienced a 75% increase in enrollment this fall, and King expects the student count to increase in subsequent years. The new campus can accommodate up to 525 students, giving RLNC plenty of room to grow.

While most students will attend classes at the new campus, others will connect virtually. Every classroom has an 80-inch screen, wireless, and the latest instructional television (ITV) connections. Such technology will also allow RLNC students to tap into courses at other TCUs and distance programs offered at Bemidji State University. King notes that this will serve as a “crucial bridge to higher education” and allow tribal members to complete degrees without leaving the reservation.

Besides the college’s impressive technological reach, the new building houses an array of offices, a library, archival center, café, an Ojibwe language immersion preschool, and a day care. And all of the facilities are open to the community. “We’re a family college,” King says. He points out that most students are first generation and that the college is there to help them out.

Anishinaabe culture maintains that one should look ahead seven generations into the future. King believes the new college does just that and that it will help transform the entire community. “They didn’t have access or facilities before,” he says. “It’s all about committing to the future.”

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