Red Lake Capitol Ribbon Cutting - P2
Migizi Soars Over Veterans Memorial During Ceremony
The Red Lake Tribal Council held Grand Opening Ceremonies of the new Red Lake Nation Capitol, which includes a new Government Center, Red Lake Nation College, new Powwow Grounds, and Veterans Memorial on Monday, August 17, 2015 on the lake near the Red Lake Boys and Girls Club.
The weeklong celebration began with a Media Day on Monday with events scheduled for the entire week. Many local, state and federal elected officials along with radio, television and print media attended this first day. US Congressman Collin Peterson and Governor Mark Dayton were among the high profile dignitaries attending.
The tribal college with an eagle head and wings outstretched as if protecting the college spans the distance of a football field at 300 feet. The government center, a bit smaller, has a wing spread of 213 feet.
The day beginning at 9 a.m. featured a ribbon cutting for the entire campus. Later the Veteran's Memorial dedication, a mini-powwow, and live Bald Eagles took place. The buildings are being considered for the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest eagle sculptures.
Red Lake Nation Capitol Grand Opening Ceremonies & Media Day, Monday, August 17
The day began about 9:30 a.m. with an opening prayer by Red Lake Spiritual Advisor Eugene Stillday. Stillday stood on the new raised and covered elders and announcer's area of the new powwow grounds built on the site of the old. Those gathered on the viewing stand at the south end of the circle had a view of Red Lake to the north through a break in the ring and the space between the two eagle-covered buildings.
Red Lake Nation College President Dan King acted as an emcee. He welcomed the estimated 1100 Red Lake members and friends of the Nation, from Leech Lake, White Earth, Bemidji and other communities near the Reservation. After a drum song by the Battle River Singers, King introduced Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr.
Seki, as is his custom, first spoke in Ojibwe introducing himself and thanking people, then thanked those in attendance in English. "I want to thank the Tribal Council. It doesn't take just one person to get things accomplished on our reservation," Seki said.
King said the facilities have been completed ahead of schedule. The college was already being moved in to, with the Council due to move in the government center soon. "We start classes in about two weeks on (Aug. 31)," King said. "Our new campus will be open for fall term." King estimates there will be 150 students or more by the time classes start. "We are a public school, we're open to any person who wants to attend," King said.
The new college features onsite daycare and Head Start Ojibwe Language Immersion Program. Additional features include a fitness center with sauna/sweat and a college cafe supported by Red Lake Gaming.
Tribal Secretary Don Cook, Tribal Treasurer Annette Johnson, Little Rock Representative Richard Barrett, Red Lake Representative Roman Stately, Red Lake Representative Robert Smith, Ponemah Representative Randy Kingbird, and Hereditary Chief James Loud also spoke. Loud urged the younger generation to get an education by echoing the college's motto, "It's a good place to start."
Several council members spoke of the college being equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Plans are to network classrooms with other colleges via telepresence. Students will be able to attend classes at other colleges without leaving campus, and Red Lake will be able to share cultural classes with other schools."
King then introduced Red Lake Nation College Development Director, Eugene "Bugger" McArthur. "Martin Luther King had a dream. Red Lake Nation had a vision and that vision is to prepare our people for the 21st Century," he said.
Following McArthur to the podium was Congressman Collin Peterson, Colleen Landkamer from USDA Rural Development, MN State Director, State Senator, Rod Skoe, and State Representative, Dave Hancock. (A United States Department of Agriculture grant helped pay for the new Capitol center)
After honoring workers, and a gift presentation to the council and college from the building's architects DSGW, eyes moved to the lakeside of the powwow ring looking toward the new buildings, and the Veterans Memorial on the shores of the lake. Council members, chiefs, state and federal officials, and college leaders, stretched a long yellow ribbon between the bleachers while Seki sported a "Paul Bunyan" size scissors. Cheers rang out as Seki cut the ribbon with a big smile.
Veterans Memorial Dedication and Visit by Migizi
After the cheers subsided, attendees did a slow walk toward the Sacred Lake and the Veterans Memorial Site near the Tribal Government building.
Here again was a blessing by Spiritual Advisor Eugene Stillday. Shortly after Stillday began to speak, a thousand pairs of eyes suddenly looked skyward to see a fledgling Migizi (and right on time) soar low over the flags of the memorial. Activities stopped briefly and one could see Indian sharing with non-Indian the symbolism by the "expected" visit by Migizi. A fitting positive omen with the eagle protected college (for young people) and government center.
The eaglet appeared just as spiritual advisor Eugene Stillday spoke of a vision of an eagle that came to him in a dream. "Perhaps it was a premonition that I would be here," Stillday said. Stillday spoke in front of a new black granite veteran's memorial near the government offices building. "It's a reminder to stay strong as a nation," said Treasurer Johnson about Migizi's short visit.
A drum song by Battle River followed flag ceremonies, a 21-gun salute to all Red Lake veterans, and the playing of taps for deceased veterans. Just as the slow and lonely song of taps trailed off, Minnesota State Governor Mark Dayton arrived with a small entourage.
Dayton addressed the crowd at the memorial, where he asked the youth in attendance to promise to stay in school, graduate and become leaders of the Red Lake Nation, the state of Minnesota and the United States. "Those eagles (buildings) are destined for world record as they epitomize the magnificence of Red Lake Nation and what you've achieved here, what you've built here and of your proud heritage," Dayton said. "And of your commitment to your next generations that are here today and are not yet born."
Dayton said funding specifically for tribal K-12 will help increase graduation rates among Native students. Having the tribal college on the reservation could help recruit students and technology helps further the reach, as well.
"Now you can look someone right in the eye from a thousand miles away," Dayton said. "It's a big boom to education to have that kind of communication...students here can embrace their own culture while continuing their education and becoming part of the next generation of leadership for the Red Lake Nation."
Feast and Tours
Following the dedication at the Veterans Memorial, a community lunch sponsored by the Red Lake Tribal Council was served to all. A short press conference was held at the new Tribal Council Chambers following lunch with tribal and state officials.
The afternoon was less structured with several things happening simultaneously. They included a mini powwow at the new powwow grounds and tours for media and others at the Government Center, College and Veterans Memorial. Just west of the College, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center held a demonstration with two live Migiziwag on display much to the pleasure of all, especially children. Old and new friends enjoyed a warm and sunny day in celebration of a job well done.
That evening and all evenings following, a community movie night held outdoors near the college.
Week Long Celebration
Tuesday, August 18, Culture, Language and Elder Day, RLNC
Spiritual Advisor Eugene Stillday, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr., and Dr. Anton Treuer BSU Professor, spoke on "Language & Culture." Treuer gave an overview of the book Warrior Nation, a political history of Red Lake commissioned by the Red Lake Constitutional Reform Committee and written by Treuer, available soon.
Wednesday, August 19, Red Lake History & Education Day, RLNC
Dr. Brenda Child, University of Minnesota Professor and Red Lake member presented a lecture on "Red Lake History."
Thursday, August 19, Celebrate Life Day, RLNC
Topics included "Suicide Awareness," "Awareness, Treatment & Prevention Issues," about drugs and alcohol, "Your Emotional Well-Being/Intelligence & the Importance of Self-Care," "Life Skills Success," and "Tips for Academic Success."
Friday was the first day of the three-day annual Red Lake Fair and Powwow.