Fond du Lac Band gets $3 million loan for new resource management buildingFond du Lac Reservation administrative assistant Ellen Bassett has many typical items on her desk – paperwork, computer, phone. She also has a pair of earplugs.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Fond du Lac Reservation administrative assistant Ellen Bassett has many typical items on her desk – paperwork, computer, phone.
She also has a pair of earplugs.
“She wears those almost every day,” said Resource Management Director Reginald DeFoe. “But that means we’re on our way.”
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community announced this week they will lend $3 million to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for construction of an environmentally friendly resource-management building.
The $4.5 million building will house about 100 staff members and services for the Band’s land, environmental and conservation programs in addition to its tribal court. The programs are currently spread out across the reservation, with the bulk of them in a building near the construction site.
“It’s past due,” DeFoe said of the new building. “We’re short on space – storage space, office space.”
Reservation forester Steve Olson agreed, explaining that privacy is hard to find with a conference room in the lobby and where it’s common to have three people crammed into one office space. And when there’s a hard rain, it leaks into the building.
“I’m excited for the new building,” said Kari Hedin, Reservation watershed specialist.
Ground was broken for the new building in September at the intersection of Big Lake and University roads near the tribal government center. The shell of the building should be completed by the end of December, DeFoe said. The completion deadline is May 31.
The band has been planning for a new resource management building for several years, and at one time was considering an $8 million, 32,000-square-foot facility. They have since scaled back on those plans and are building a two-story 20,000-square-foot facility.
They will apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and the building will include roof-mounted solar panels to generate electricity and energy-efficient features.
“To the extent possible, the facility will be a green building,” Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver said in a news release announcing the loan. “We’ve been seeking funding for quite a while because this is something we really need. We’re very grateful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton for allowing Fond du Lac to really stabilize this part of our tribal operations.”
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community owns and operates Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos in Prior Lake, Minn. Over the past 12 years the tribe has donated more than $162 million to charitable organizations and Indian tribes, including more than $20.9 million in fiscal year 2009.
“We think this is a worthwhile project,” Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Stanley R. Crooks said. “Taking care of tribal land and resources is essential to asserting tribal sovereignty. As Indian tribes, we are responsible for taking care of our land, our people and our resources so that our grandchildren and their grandchildren as well as future generations will have a place to call home.”
A $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will also help with the project.
In the meantime, it’s earplugs for Basset and one more winter for the employees in the old building.
“The rattling [due to the construction] has gotten really bad,” she said. “But I know what the end result is going to be, so it’s well worth it.”
Duluth News Tribune staff contributed to this story.