Looking toward the lake near the Red Lake Humanities Center, beyond the Red Lake Powwow grounds, the landscape continues to change. Walls are starting to go up, roads are nearly complete, and sidewalks meander about where soon a college campus will rise. This is the site of what Red Lake Nation College president Dan King refers to as the new Red Lake Capitol.
Here in the process of being built are huge twin buildings in the shape of Migizi (bald eagle), a unique design that may draw attention far and wide. They will be the worlds largest fiberglass eagles at 48 feet high. To the East will be the new Tribal Government Center, to the West the new Red Lake Nation College. The construction is scheduled to be completed in mid-June, 2015.
On September 10, the Red Lake Tribal Council and Chiefs met with the construction team for a progress report on the new "Red Lake Capitol." College president Dan King would act as emcee. He introduced Spiritual leader and Hereditary Chief Greeting Spears who blessed a Spirit Dish after which a light lunch was provided.
King narrated a brief slide show with photos of the construction site. "These are "Green" buildings," explained King. "The grounds are prepared for several heat pumps in the future. All the underground work is done…the plumbing and lighting, the final grading for both sites are done, light pole bases are in, and the tubing for radiant heat is installed.
"Both buildings will be closed in by the time the snow flies when work will then begin inside. I'll be talking with you soon about color schemes and furniture," said a smiling King.
"Donlar Construction is showing excellent corporate citizenship," noted King. "They are ahead of schedule and have saved the tribe thousands of dollars. We hope to save hundreds of thousands of dollars with which we hope to rebuild the Red Lake powwow grounds close to the site. Donlar is working well with TERO, they are employing Red Lake members."
Donning hard hats, construction workers escorted some of the group who took a short tour of the site.
More about the Red Lake Capitol
Red Lake Nation College
—Construction of the new buildings will be a source of pride for Red Lake Nation.
—The new building will increase educational opportunities and be an accredited school.
—The twin College campus and tribal government center buildings’ Eagle design symbolize the culture, strength, power and perseverance of Red Lake Nation.
—With high unemployment rates and numerous social and health issues, the Red Lake Tribal leadership feels that higher education is one of the best long-term solutions for community development.
—The remote location of the Red Lake reservation creates an access barrier to higher education. The high cost of transportation for a two-hour daily round trip, (to the nearest college) the cost of daycare, etc., presents a financial difficulty for many tribal members. The motto for the Red Lake Nation College is “A Great Place to Start!”
—Currently 95 percent of the students are Red Lake Tribal Members. However, once the new facilities are built, College leaders anticipate a higher percentages of non-members and non-Indian students from the surrounding area.
—The new campus will feature state-of-the-art technology for shared distance learning with other Colleges. The campus will contain a large, multi-purpose Student Union and hold 14 classrooms that includes biology and chemistry labs, and two computer labs.
—The new Tribal College will host a library, tribal archives/library center, Ojibwe Language Center and an Ojibwe Language Immersion Head Start and Daycare Center for up to 60 children. Included also is a Student Café, Wellness and Fitness Center, and a Sweat Lodge to promote healthy lifestyles and strong cultural living. The college facilities will be open to the public.
Red Lake Tribal Government Center
—$10,130,000 USDA loan will be used to build a 27,400 square-foot tribal government center next to the college. The new center will provide a safer environment and allow the tribe to operate out of one central location.
—By the fall of 2014, Red Lake Tribal Government will be housed under one roof for efficiency and the convenience of the people.
—The front of the twin buildings will bear the silhouettes of wing-spread eagles.
In addition to the new buildings, the project will include a new powwow grounds, walking trails along the lake and a Veterans Park honoring all Red Lakers who have served in U.S. Armed Forces. The park will feature black granite monuments for inscribing names of living and deceased service personnel with plenty of room for more names if need be.