KBJR: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe school breaks ground on a rebuild
BENA, MN - After years of struggle, the Bug-o-Nay-Ge-Shig school, on the Leech Lake Reservation, will finally be getting a critical rebuild.
Senator Al Franken and Congressman Rick Nolan joined the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Bena today for a ground breaking ceremony for the new high school made possible thanks to Federal funding.
The Ground breaking for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School began with traditional native song, followed by remarks from elected and school officials.
All said this project brings hope to the students, faculty and the community at large.
Betty McCollum, United States Representative said,
"What the children did here in Leech Lake by coming, and you know, they spoke with Al and me; and of course Rick's young constituents, telling their story, will really have an impact for children all across Indian Country, all across the United States. So this is very symbolic today of what's happening."
The rundown school gained national attention due to its advanced state of disrepair which includes rotting floors, broken furnaces and rodent infestations.
The on-going deterioration of the school caused an outcry from the community, who said the learning conditions were just not acceptable.
Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson says the rebuild will make the school a safer environment for students.
"Well, anytime you improve the learning facilities where these kids are going to be learning on a day to day basis, it builds up self-esteem.
You know, they want a school they don't only go to on a daily basis. A school that they're really proud of. " Said, Faron.
The project's been in the works for more than six years.
Senator Al Franken said the decision to push for federal funding was a no-brainer.
"It was obvious that we needed to fight for funding to get this done. The pole barn is unacceptable, and has been for years. And it was really about fighting and fighting, and fighting for years to get this done."
School officials say the rebuild will help give their students the tools they need to succeed in the future.
The project, which adds labs and modern facilities, is scheduled to be completed in July of 2017.