Red Lake Skatepark Groundbreaking Held April 23
Been a long time coming, but the Red Lake Skatepark Groundbreaking took place at noon on Monday, April 23, 2012, on the front lawn near the Red Lake High School.
The new skatepark — as well as two basketball courts — are being built in Red Lake this summer as part of an initiative to engage the community’s youth in activities that promote healthy lifestyles. As part of a grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a 7,000 sq. foot park skatepark, along with renovations to the Red Lake basketball courts will be built. Construction is expected to commence on the 1st of May, and estimated to be complete by September 2012.
The groundbreaking began with youth and tribal leaders forming a circle for a blessing by a tribal elder Larry Stillday, and two drum songs. Economic Development and Planning staff person Margueritte Secola acted as emcee for the event, and then called for remarks from Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., and Red Lake Representative Donald "Dudie" May. Also speaking were three youth representatives, and Doug Miles from Apace Skateboards and advocate for reservation skateparks.
"This park is for our kids," said Jourdain in his remarks. "We need to develop positive activities for our youth to do around the rez besides basketball. The Tribal Council will continue to encourage youth to participate in arts and crafts, as well as sports and other activities."
Jourdain also took time to thank the school district who has donated the land for skateboard park use. "The school district has let the kids skate in the parking lot for a few years when others have chased the skaters off, and we thank them for that. Now they are giving us this land to use, in this great visible spot near the highway, we greatly appreciate that."
Tribal leaders, staff, and youth then donned hard hats and golden shovels and did the obligatory ceremonial groundbreaking in the shadow of a huge bull dozer ready for work. Refreshments followed along with a short demonstration by local skateboarders.
Arriving late, but not too late, just as the dedication was ending was Charlie Vig, Vice-Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Much of the work on the skatepark will be done from a grant from the Shakopee tribe, owners of Mystic Lake Casino. Vig is a pilot and decided to fly up to Red Lake for the dedication.
"Good weather is a good reason to get out of the office and come see good friends," Vig said with a smile.
Vig took time to visit with the youth who will benefit by the new skatepark and to have a few photos taken. He also visited with the contractor for the park (along with Red Lake builders) Doug Nieson, as well as skateboarding promotor from Apace Skateboards, Doug Miles.
"We like what you are doing for your kids," said Vig in an interview. "Once we saw this plan for a skate park, I told (Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota) Chairman (Stanley) Crooks that we've got to do something like this. In fact I like a lot of the leadership you are taking here at Red Lake, I want to learn more about and set up a youth council at Shakopee like Red Lake; we hope to learn that from you."
Two new skate parks will be built one in Red Lake this year, and another in Ponemah in 2013.
Back in June 2008, Red Lake Tribal Administrator Lea Perkins was working toward getting a skate board park for Red Lake and Ponemah. In order to promote interest in that idea, Perkins arranged for the APACHE Skateboards Team to visit Red Lake for a demonstration that summer.
“It was kind of a kick-off event," said Perkins, “we hoped to have a park sooner, but now it seem to be becoming a reality." Apache Skateboards is a professional American Indian skate board team who originate from the San Carlos Apache reservation in AZ, in addition to being a manufacturer of skateboards and equipment. “The skate team is much more than trick demonstrations, they promote healthy lifestyles, creative goal setting, education, and positive attitudes towards being native through skating,” she said.
“There is much more to skateboarding than what might meet the eye,” said Douglas Miles, San Carlos Apache and owner of Apache Skateboards. “Skateboarding is non-competitive, it is a person versus themselves, it requires problem solving and use of space.”
When talking to Miles, one feels as though he could talk for hours about the positive aspects of skateboarding that most might never think of. “One has to think way ‘out of the box,' there are so many positive messages," said Miles, “and this can lead to a positive feeling of oneself.”
“Our Economic Development and Planning team conducted meetings with local skateboarders,” said Director Samuel Strong, “we took a survey and came up with some good feedback. The overall consensus was to build a street/plaza style park, with one or two bowl-like elements."
The planning team then contacted Miles of Apache Skateboards whom they consulted with regarding the concepts identified and a planning process. Miles team then, provided concept drawings and design.