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Spirit Lake starts construction of community addiction treatment center

Cankdeska Cikana Community College President Cynthia Lindquist speaks at groundbreaking event for an addiction treatment center in Fort Totten on Friday. At left is Gov. Doug Burgum and Tami Reller of UnitedHealth. (Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald) 1 / 2
Tami Reller, with UnitedHealth, Cankdeska Cikana Community College President Cynthia Lindquist and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum stand in front of the home for the Spirit Lake Recovery and Wellness Center on Friday. (Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald) 2 / 2

FORT TOTTEN, N.D.—Leaders from North Dakota and Spirit Lake Nation gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new residential substance abuse treatment center that will benefit generations to come.

Gov. Doug Burgum joined with Cankdeska Cikana Community College President Cynthia Lindquist and Tami Reller, with UnitedHealth, for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the renovation of a former group home into a 15-bed residential substance-abuse treatment center for adults in the Spirit Lake Dakota community on Friday.

Construction has already started on the new part of the facility and it is expected to be completed in seven months.

The groundbreaking began with a prayer by one of the Spirit Lake elders, followed by comments from various people involved with the project. Myra Pearson, chairwoman for the Spirit Lake Tribe, grew up on the land where the facility is being built and shared stories about the area.

Developed in collaboration with the Spirit Lake Recovery & Wellness program, Tiospaye Okciyapi Tipi, which translates to "home for families helping families" will help expand access to needed treatment services and will serve as the only residential treatment facility in the area that is accessible to people outside the local law enforcement system.

The project is made possible by a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the United Health Foundation to the CCCC. In addition to the grant for the construction project, the United Health Foundation has also given $360,000 to the American Indian College Fund for scholarships for North Dakota tribal students, with preference for Spirit Lake and CCCC.

The goal of the facility is to provide treatment and support for adults in the Spirit Lake Nation who are dealing with drug addiction in a culturally sensitive environment. The project comes a year after a community assessment found the No. 1 priority on the Spirit Lake Nation was the protection of the health and well-being of the children, Lindquist said.

"A lot of our families, a lot of our moms and dads are in trouble for a variety of reasons, a lot of it related to addiction issues," she said, adding that they want to best help the community in any way they can.

The "disease of addiction" is affecting every community across the country and across the state, Burgum said. North Dakota is short on recovery support services to help people recover from addiction, which he said is a "progressive and ultimately fatal disease if not treated."

"We can't just build the buildings," Burgum said. "We have to have the right kind of properly trained workers to be able to support people that are going through treatment."

During the program, Lindquist spoke about a visit from then-gubernatorial candidate Burgum, who had spent several hours with community members about issues they were facing. Lindquist said the visit left an impact on everyone.

"We really appreciate it when elected officials take the time to come and be with us and to visit with us because it's only within the context of seeing and being a part of us that you can really get a better sense of what it is we are and what it is we're trying to do," she said.

Burgum said he had made a commitment to visit all of the tribal lands in the state to understand the issues they were facing and to figure out the ways that the state could "partner with sovereign nations" to help them find a pathway forward.

"One thing that we have in common is we all care about the health and well-being of our children and future generations," he said. "One of the horrible impacts of addiction is when parents have an addiction it's often the children that pay the price. ... (It's a) tremendous collaboration across so many people to make (this) possible."

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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