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White Earth gets $1 million grant for fire hall, diabates center

A $1 million grant will help pay for a new White Earth diabetes center, fire truck improvements and a new fire hall on the reservation.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) awarded the grant to the White Earth Nation to help fight for wellness, especially when diabetes is four to eight times more prevalent among Native Americans.

The SMSC reports that 68 percent of American Indian children will come down with type 2 diabetes, which is preventable.

Two-thirds of the grant will be used along with U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds to complete the new diabetes center wing at the tribal health offices building.

White Earth Tribal officials say Sanford Health is committed to establishing a dialysis center as long as the tribe provides the space for it. Now with the grants, a 5,000-square-foot wing of the Health Division building will help fulfill that goal.

More than $560,000 will pay for the project this fiscal year. The SMSC has also committed to another $1 grant for fiscal year 2012 for the same project.

Additional projects on the reservation will help improve the White Earth Fire Department with a new pumper truck for the fire department.

White Earth tribal officials say the current 1972 pumper is now obsolete and unable to connect to newer buildings, including the White Earth tribal headquarters, Indian Health Services or the Circle of Life School.

About $336,000 will be used for the truck and another $2,000 will help pay for comprehensive driver training.

In Naytahwaush, more than $1.2 million will fund a new fire hall to replace the existing one that was built in the 1980s.

"This facility is no longer adequate to house our 24/7 ambulance crew, and cannot accommodate the height of new fire equipment," according to a White Earth proposal document.