October 23, 2014

A beacon for our warriors

By Jerry W. Kram

Cold and wind moved the ceremony indoors, but the weather could dampen the spirits of area veterans and their families who gathered in the Johnny Bird Center in Four Bears for the groundbreaking of the new MHA Tribal Veterans Center.

Bill Hale, Jr., Service Officer for the Veterans Affairs Office in New Town, said the construction on the project would begin in earnest in the spring. The project has been in the works for quite a while but Hale has been involved since January.

"It’s taken a long time," Hale said. "Just the realty part, getting a lease and all the documentation for the BIA took over three months to get done. But as soon as the snow is gone in the spring, we’ll be ready to go."

The area where the center will sit is on top of a large hill. Hale said veterans will be able to see many miles in every direction. They will be able to see culturally important places like the Thunder Buttes and Blue Buttes.

"What better people to protect and serve our culture than our veterans?" Hale asked.

Surveys of the area for archeological remains are ongoing, but Hale asked Gerard Baker to inspect the area before the project moved forward. Baker is member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and was an archeologist for the National Park Service for 25 years at the Knife River Indian Villages.

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