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White Earth gets stimulus grant

The White Earth Tribe will collaborate with the Minnesota Community and Technical College campus in Detroit Lakes on courses related to green energy. (Jason Adkins/DL Newspapers)

The White Earth Reservation received a boost to its job training programs with the awarding of a $3 million federal stimulus grant.

The Pathways Out of Poverty Grants go toward training for "green" jobs. Enrolled tribal members are eligible for the training. White Earth Tribal Chairwoman Erma Vizenor said the tribe was the only American Indian tribe to receive this type of grant.

"The grant is very good news for the White Earth Tribe," Vizenor said.

Vizenor said she is proud of the staff that compiled the grant application. The training will be a collaboration among several educational and governmental entities.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes, as well as the White Earth Tribal and Community College, will offer courses including working with wind turbines, energy auditing and retrofitting existing building for increased energy efficiency.

"The unique part of it is that it's tied to green energy and green energy resources," Vizenor said. "We focused on training."

The state Workforce Center in Detroit Lakes, tribal employment rights office, tribal vocational rehabilitation program and the tribe's "Down On Violence Everyday" are also involved.

"It's a number of departments and agencies that we will collaborate with," Vizenor said.

She said through the tribe's adult basic education program, she's optimistic 80 students out of 100 total will graduate with a diploma or certificate.

Vizenor said green energy has a bright future for White Earth.

A 750-kilowatt wind turbine will be constructed at the tribal headquarters building this spring that will help bring down energy costs. That project culminates five years of getting through government red tape, Vizenor said.

Vizenor said the new Circle of Life school building is being built using green methods.

"The school will have the latest in state-of-the-aart green technology," she said.

Besides wind power, geothermal climate control systems are being used in the expansion of the Tribal and Community College.

"We're using all the green energy we possibly can," Vizenor said.

She said White Earth's expansiveness helps it develop green energy projects that tap into a variety of sources. She said that the political support is there for green energy as well.

"Everyone with a reasonable mind should be in support of green jobs and green energy programs," Vizenor said.