Indian Health Board to inaugurate future wellness campus

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — October 9 is Indigenous Peoples Day in Minnesota. This is the first year it is officially celebrated as a public holiday.

In south Minneapolis, the community celebrated by looking toward the future of Indigenous health and well-being.

The Indian Health Board of Minneapolis (IHB) will break ground on a new health care clinic next year. On Monday, they held a blessing of the site of the future Menaandawiwe Wellness Campus, at 2027 East Franklin Avenue.

According to IHB, the site will combine traditional healing methods with state-of-the-art medical, dental and specialty services in a campus environment.

“It took us over 50 years to make this happen,” said IHB CEO Dr. Patrick Rock, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. “We’re actually the first urban Indian health organization in the United States. And it started… really a wave of people coming together and recognizing the lack of health services for indigenous people in the region. Twin Cities.”

According to Minnesota Department of Health, Native American women, children, and families experience the greatest health disparities in the state. Another report of MN Community Measurement found that Native patients receive rates of optimal care significantly lower than the state average.

IHB was founded in 1971 to provide quality health care to generations of urban American Indians. IHB provides primary medical care, dental services, mental and behavioral health and recovery services, and health and wellness education.

“I’ve been researching Indian health for about 20 years and many of the common themes are that Native patients don’t feel welcome where they are or that there are different belief systems in place” , said IHB President Joni Buffalohead (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate). “The Indian Health Board clinic here in Minneapolis is totally culturally focused…like many cultures among our indigenous peoples.”

IHB has already completed some phases of the project, but this new site, which will be inaugurated in the spring, will house its medical and dental services.

The Menaandawiwe Wellness Campus will almost triple its size.

“Over the years, we have recognized that Franklin Avenue has truly become a central hub where many Indigenous people live, do business and work. an important part of our decision-making,” said Dr. Rock.

Monday, during the ceremony, Richard Wright, former resident of the BHI, blessed the land of the future campus. Grass dancers also participated in the ceremony, preparing the site for construction.

Many elected officials attended the ceremony, including Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and U.S. Senator Tina Smith.

Dr. Rock said it was an approximately $24 million project, made possible by state and federal funding.

“There are so many hands that have shaped this day and brought us here to celebrate the Indian Health Council on this beautiful space,” said Lt. Governor Flanagan. “Equity and grantmaking, equity and bonding, and saying we’re going to set aside dollars specifically for indigenous communities and specifically for communities of color who have been left out of this process for too long. Because you know what? We know how to best invest and spend that money in ways that make sense for our own communities.

The project architect is an American Indian from Turtle Mountain, part of the DSGW firm. The construction company is Woodstone and its owner, Paul Meyer, is an American Indian from White Earth.

IHB said the goal is to open the Menaandawiwe Wellness Campus by spring 2026.

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