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Shakopee Mdewakanton Award $1 Million Grants to Bois Forte, Upper Sioux


The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has donated $1 million each to two Minnesota tribal nations: the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and Upper Sioux Community.

The grants will enable the continuation of much-needed infrastructure projects previously funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton.

“We are happy to be able to help tribes improve their facilities so that they can better provide services for their members,” said SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig in a press release.

Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

A $1 million grant to the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa of northern Minnesota will fund a new medical and dental clinic on the Lake Vermilion portion of their reservation. This is the second consecutive year that the SMSC has supported this project with a $1 million grant. The project is going out to bid in April; construction is scheduled to begin in June; with a grand opening planned for September.

Bois Forte Chairman Kevin Leecy said, “With the new clinic we will be able to provide lab services on-site; increase hours for our part time medical provider and increase health care services in the clinic from the current three days per week to five days per week. Diabetes education and the WIC clinic will now have room to meet with patients rather than require patients to travel to another location.”

Preliminary plans call for a new medical and dental clinic of approximately 10,500 square feet adjacent to the Vermilion Community Center and the existing clinic. Indian Health Services staff are involved in the Planning Committee for the new clinic.

The new clinic will substantially increase the size and availability of services by increasing from the current one examining room and one treatment room to four standard rooms and four special treatment rooms. It will also have a “telemedicine station” where patients and providers can talk face -to-face with medical providers at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Enhanced laboratory services will allow for same day tests where previously they were sent out with results taking several days. Additional spaces will include facilities for an onsite pharmacy, dental services, administrative offices, and an x-ray room.

The existing clinic space of 1,200 square feet attached to the Community Center will be converted to offices for tribal government departments. The estimated cost of the project is $4 million, including construction, furniture, fixtures, and equipment. IHS funding will pay for about half of the project.

The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa have two tribal parcels of land: Nett Lake, home of the tribal government and where the majority of tribal members live, and the Vermilion Sector, also home to a growing number of tribal members and Fortune Bay Resort Casino, the Band’s largest economic enterprise.

Previous SMSC grants to Bois Forte have funded an administration building, a health clinic, a quick lube center and car wash and associated infrastructure improvements at the tribe’s Y-Store near the Vermilion Lake Reservation; the Lake Vermilion Community Wellness Center, a 13,668 square foot facility which contains space for a gymnasium, locker rooms, weight training and exercise area, youth operated canteen, and staff offices; and land purchases. In November 2005 the SMSC approved a $2,000,000 loan to the Bois Forte Band for acquisition of the Ledge Convenience Store, now renamed the Y-Store, near the Vermilion Lake Reservation.

Upper Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has awarded a $1 million grant to the Upper Sioux Community to help with construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. This is the third year the SMSC has supported this initiative with a $1 million grant. The new facility will replace the current “drainfield” type system which is nearing the end of its life cycle. The facility provides services for about 50 homes and four tribal enterprises, including Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort. The same project was funded with a $1 million grant in fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2010.

“Actual construction on the project began last fall on a $4.7 million wastewater treatment facility with an expected completion in mid-June 2013. Our system is a membrane batch reactor (MBR), modeled after the SMSC wastewater treatment facility. It is designed to treat 100,000 gallons per day, 35% more than our current needs and has capacity for double that amount as future needs dictate. Without the generosity of the SMSC, the Upper Sioux Community would not have been able to build the most state of the art plant to provide for our Tribal needs in an environmentally sensitive manner,”said Upper Sioux Chairman Kevin Jensvold.

The Upper Sioux Community near Granite Falls, Minnesota, has an enrollment of 486 tribal members, with a land base of approximately 2,000 acres. Their 1938 reservation boundaries consisted of 734 acres. The Upper Sioux Community and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community have had close social and cultural ties for generations as members of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation.

In 2001 the SMSC funded Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort with a $21 million loan. In previous years, the SMSC has funded a land purchase and a government center, economic and infrastructure development, including extensive repairs to the wastewater treatment plant, start-up costs for a police department, health benefits, and erosion control. Since 1997 the SMSC has provided the Upper Sioux Community with more than $13.4 million in assistance.