Before partners broke ground on two important community projects on November 15, tribal member Dayna Boyce performed a sacred blessing over the Maliseet tribal land, offering tobacco to bless the earth and giving thanks to the earth for the land to build upon. The Tribe will soon have a brand new state-of-the-art health center and six units of much-needed affordable family housing, thanks to its own contributions and assistance from USDA Rural Development and partners.
Appropriately, ground was broken on the two essential community projects during November’s Native American Heritage Month, of which the theme this year is “Promoting Healthy Families, Cultures and the Environment.” The two projects help support this theme, by promoting healthy families through the both quality healthcare and housing.
The Tribes current health center’s building lacks space and privacy. Some services are even housed in other buildings because there is no room in the current center to provide those services. The Maliseet Tribe’s new health center will be a centralized facility large enough to accommodate all of the services needed by the community. USDA Rural Development contributed a $250,000 Rural Economic Impact Initiative (REII) grant.
Other partners are The Indian Health Service, which is investing $1.4 million dollars in grant funds and the Department of Housing and Urban Development which provided a grant in the amount of $600,000. The Tribe also contributed $160,000 in the form of a cash contribution and land value.
In addition to the new Health Center, a new apartment building is also being constructed. The six unit housing complex is the first Multi-family housing facility funded by USDA Rural Development on Maliseet land. USDA Rural Development is providing a $1 million dollar Multi-Family Housing Rural Rental Housing Loan and the Tribe is contributing $142,000.
USDA Rural Development has a saying that it can build a rural community from the ground up, and the same is true in Maine’s tribal communities. The new Health Center and Multi-Family Housing will impact this community by providing quality healthcare and affordable housing for its members.
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Chief Brenda Commander told me, “These two projects represent a significant milestone for the tribe, helping to promote a healthier community.”
President Obama has issued a proclamation designating November as National Native American Heritage Month. Read it by clicking here.