Little Big Horn College marries healthy living and green building


CROW AGENCY, Mont. – Little Big Horn College recently expanded its campus with a groundbreaking ceremony making way for an $8 million health and wellness center designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver environmental guidelines, and improve health education on the Crow Reservation.

LBHC president Dr. David Yarlott Jr. said the project is a collaborative process with the Crow Reservation community citing the many health issues facing reservation residents. The initial $3 million for the building project comes from a Title III grant. The Crow Tribe assisted with the project by clearing the building site.

“We thought if there was one way to help alleviate these issues it would be to help address them through education.” Yarlott said. “We have included LBHC staff and the community in the planning process.”

Dean of Administration David Small said the LEED Silver status goes hand in hand with LBHC plans to eventually produce wind and solar power.

“We’d like to be a zero net gain campus. This building will be the start of it. The library was thought of [as green], but this building will be LEED certified.”

Architectural and engineering staff at the ceremony 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 beginning with prayers from staff member Marlon Passes. Yarlott asked for 10 individuals to break the ground using 10 shovels.

“Ten is significant, he said. 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.”

LBHC is a two-year tribal college serving the 13,000 member Crow Nation in south-central Montana. The $8 million plan is the sixth building project undertaken by Yarlott with Phase I creating a space for aerobics rooms, a classroom, and meeting areas. Phase II of the building plan includes the construction of 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.