A rendering in the office of Erin Belgarde, Strategic Planning Coordinator for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI) in Rolette County, North Dakota, shows a dream becoming reality: the Turtle Mountain Recovery Center, a 100-acre campus with a central facility, supportive residences, confidence course, equine therapy stables, sweat lodge, medicinal garden and walking trails.
“The students at Purdue did that for us,” Belgarde says of the campus design.
The Turtle Mountain Reservation covers 72 square miles next to the Canadian border, so Belgarde and others were surprised when a USDA-funded program matched them with Purdue Extension.
Michael Wilcox, Purdue Extension’s Program Leader for Community Development, started working with the TMBCI in late 2019 through the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) program. REDI funds technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. Purdue Extension Community Development leads REDI projects in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and North Dakota. These projects extend Indiana knowledge and know-how to help reshape other communities.
Wilcox and Nicole Adams, Clinical Assistant Professor in Purdue’s School of Nursing and a specialist in recovery-oriented systems of care, guided development of a business plan and clinical plan and identified additional partners. “They got Tribal Council buy-in and, by making sure the community was involved, got the community behind them,” Belgarde says.
Aaron Thompson, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, agreed to design the campus landscaping and engaged his students in the effort. “Native Americans are visual learners,” Belgarde says. “When we got their drawings … wow!”
Bringing together Indiana expertise in community development, recovery and design has led to a more holistic center. “This is a place where people want to be together,”
Belgarde says. “To have the option for recovery on top of that, it’s going to be amazing.”
See how Extension served your Indiana community in the 2020 Purdue Extension Impact Report: extension.purdue.edu/annualreport/.