USDA Rural Development Wisconsin State Director Stan Gruszynski today highlighted the Department’s active partnership with Native American tribes in Wisconsin and throughout the nation.
“I am proud to highlight USDA’s work to support Native American communities,” Gruszynski said. “USDA offers a variety of housing and community facilities programs to help address the education and health care needs of the Lac Courte Oreilles and those of Native Americans elsewhere in the nation.”
Gruszynski visited the campus of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Tribal Community College in Hayward to tour the Sustainable Agriculture Research Station. In September, the College received a $168,000 USDA Tribal College Initiative Grant to expand the Station. The improvements will provide better post-harvest handling of produce and add a commercial/educational kitchen for community use. The Station trains students and other community members in sustainable agricultural practices that improve access to healthy, nutritious food.
During his visit here today, Gruszynski also met with the Tribal Chairman Michael J. Isham, Jr. and Lac Courte Oreilles tribal leaders to discuss the Tribe’s needs and how best to address them.
Gruszynski notified the Housing Authority that USDA is awarding it a $289,000 Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance grant to help strengthen its capacity to provide affordable housing opportunities. Gruszynski signed a certificate recognizing the Authority’s efforts on the community’s behalf.
The Housing Authority will use its Mutual Self-Help grant to help tribal members build 10 homes over the next two years. The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is the first federally recognized tribe in Wisconsin to receive a USDA Self-Help grant.
Under the Self-Help program, participants provide at least 65 percent of the construction labor on each other’s homes, with technical assistance from the organization overseeing the project. This reduces the total cost of buying a home, allowing many people to own houses that otherwise would have been out of reach.
Gruszynski also announced today that four other federally recognized Tribes are receiving funding through USDA’s Mutual Self-Help program. The recipients are:
- Zuni Housing Authority – $279,000 grant to assist 12 low-income families of the Zuni Tribe build homes in McKinley County
- North Carolina Indian Housing Authority – $204,000 grant to provide technical assistance to the Lumbee and Tuscarora Tribes to build eight homes in Cumberland, Robeson and Hoke counties over two years
- Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation – $300,000 grant to build twelve homes over a two-year period on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota
- Spokane Indian Housing Authority – $292,000 grant to provide technical and supervisory assistance to the Spokane Indian Tribe in Stevens County; community members plan to build 11 homes
Funding of each award announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided $3.4 million for 13 self-help grants that have helped build nearly 200 homes in tribal communities.
Today’s event in Wisconsin is another example of how USDA is celebrating National Native American Heritage Month this November. USDA is proud of its support of Tribal Nations and its work throughout Indian Country and Alaska.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.