Leech Lake Powwow Grounds Undergo Major Renovations: Phase 1 Begins

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Cass Lake, MN — The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is pleased to announce the commencement of major renovations at our powwow grounds, marking the start of Phase 1 of our comprehensive improvement project. These renovations are a testament to our commitment to preserving and enhancing the cultural and communal spaces that are central to our community’s traditions.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Communications Division has oversight over the pow wow budgets and our Pow Wow Coordinator, Rodney Johnson, works with the Pow Wow Committees in each community to plan for and manage their respective Pow Wow(s). Each Pow Wow Committee is comprised of the elected Local Indian Council and any representatives they designate. There are a total of six Pow Wow Grounds on the reservation, located in the communities of: Cass Lake, Ball Club, Inger, S. Lake, Onigum and Sugar Point.

As part of the FY24 budget process, $1 million dollars was allocated to the Pow Wow Administration budget to complete much needed repairs and maintenance to all of the pow wow grounds. In a significant show of support, the Tribal Council has further committed an additional $1 million towards another phase of the renovation efforts for FY25. This funding will enable the continuation of our work to enhance these vital community spaces, with the potential for further funding in the following years.

Community Impact

Our Communications Division oversees numerous tribal events, including the eight major powwows held on the reservation each year as well as most tribal council public meetings, Leech Lake Days, Kids Perch Jerk, Backpack Giveaway, Youth Valleyfair Trip and the annual Turkey Distribution. These events are vital in bringing our community together to celebrate our rich heritage and traditions. Ensuring that our powwow grounds are in top condition is essential for the success and enjoyment of these and other gatherings.

Phase 1 Focus

Phase 1 of the project aims to address any significant safety concerns and ensure all powwow grounds achieve a similar standard of structural integrity, electrical reliability, and overall maintenance. This crucial phase will lay the groundwork for a safe and functional environment, essential for the upcoming powwows and gatherings.

Phase 1 Projects by Location

Renovation projects in Phase 1 will take place at all six powwow grounds across the reservation. Here is a summary of the planned work at each site:

Cass Lake, MN

As the most well developed and maintained of all of the powwow grounds, less work was needed in the initial phase. Phase one is focused on addressing immediate safety concerns and replacing a few worn structures at our largest powwow grounds.

  • New registration/storage building
  • Electrical upgrades: new receptacles, rework existing wiring to decrease load on circuits, wiring stands
  • Repair west bleacher cover
  • Bleachers: replace seats/walkways, adjust and level all
  • Arbor repairs: new shingles, replace lumber as needed
  • Black dirt & grass seed as needed

Ball Club, MN

  • New registration/storage building
  • New mc stand
  • New elders stand
  • Electrical upgrades: new 200a service (2), new receptacles, rework existing wiring, wiring new structures
  • Bleacher cover repairs
  • Bleachers: replace wooden bleachers with steel, adjust and level all
  • Arbor repairs: new shingles, replace lumber as needed
  • Black dirt & grass seed as needed

Inger, MN

  • New registration/storage building
  • New elders stand, repair existing
  • Electrical upgrades: new 200a service, new receptacles, rework existing wiring, wiring new structures
  • Bleacher cover repairs, new steel roof on all
  • Bleachers: replace seats/walkways, adjust and level all
  • Arbor repairs: new shingles, replace lumber as needed
  • Black dirt & grass seed as needed

S. Lake, MN

One of our newer powwow grounds, this site needed the most extensive work to bring it up to the level of the other sites.

  • New registration/storage building
  • New elders stand
  • New arbor
  • Electrical upgrades: new 200a service, new receptacles, wiring new structures
  • New bleacher covers w/steel roof
  • Bleachers: replace seats/walkways, adjust and level all
  • Black dirt & grass seed as needed

Onigum, MN

The Onigum Powwow Committee is in the process of moving their powwow grounds, new buildings are being constructed with the intention that they will be moved to the new site next spring.

  • New registration/storage building
  • New elders stand
  • New mc stand

Sugar Point, MN

The Battle Point pow wow grounds will be moved slightly north to create more distance between the powwow and the residential units in the area. Nearly all of the buildings other than the arbor are being replaced.

  • New registration/storage building
  • New elders stand
  • New mc stand
  • Move and repair arbor
  • Electrical upgrades: new 200a service, new receptacles, wiring new structures
  • New bleacher covers w/steel roof
  • Bleachers: replace seats/walkways, adjust and level all
  • Black dirt & grass seed as needed

These enhancements will not only improve the structural integrity and safety of the grounds but will also incorporate elements that reflect our cultural values and community preferences. Our ultimate goal for phase one is to create a similar experience for community members and guests at all of our community pow wows

Looking Ahead to Phase 2

Phase 2 will commence in the summer of 2025 with the additional $1 million funding. This phase will build upon the work completed in Phase 1, ensuring all powwow grounds are fully upgraded and meet the highest standards of safety and cultural significance. We are also exploring the possibility of securing further funding to continue these important projects in the years to come.

A few preliminary items already targeted for Phase II include a new Elder stand and new bleacher covers in Cass Lake, electrical install for the new powwow ground location in Onigum as well as new lighting inside and outside of the powwow arenas at all sites.

Stay Informed

We will provide regular updates on the progress of these renovations. Please keep an eye on our communications channels for the latest news and information. We are excited about the positive impact these improvements will have on our community and look forward to celebrating our traditions in these enhanced spaces.

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