Red Lake Nation holds grand opening for new wellness and event center
The grand opening of Giminjimendaamin Ezhichigeyang, a new wellness and event venue that’s part of the Oshkiimaajitahdah community center in Redby, was celebrated on Monday with a ribbon cutting ceremony, lunch and live music.
REDBY, Minn. — In a spacious room lined with chairs and tables, members of the community and Red Lake Nation officials gathered for what is hopefully just the first of many celebrations in the recently constructed Giminjimendaamin Ezhichigeyang event venue in Redby.
A part of the Oshikiimaajitahdah community center, the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new addition held on Monday, Aug. 22, featured speakers, a meal and live music from Corey Medina and Brothers followed by Wally Joseph.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for quite a long time,” said Eugene StandingCloud, the assistant executive director of Oshkiimaajitahdah. “We want to make this event center something for our community.”
A large motivation behind the facility’s construction was to provide a state-of-the-art event space for local residents and remove the need to travel to larger cities like Bemidji to host events such as graduations and wedding receptions.
The 17,000-square-foot space has built-in audio-visual equipment, including three large 4K monitors and a speaker system built into the ceiling. The space also comes with in-house catering and can accommodate over 500 people for any type of event, big or small.
“Our people don’t have to go to Bemidji anymore to have events,” said Jerry Loud, Oshkiimaajitahdah’s executive director. “We want to change the paradigm, it’s limitless the things we can do here.”
This was further emphasized by Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr., when he made his comments to the audience.
“There's many things that are going to happen here, we’re starting to grow bigger than Bemidji!” Seki said with a laugh.
The venue’s construction also allows Oshkiimaajitahdah to be more self-sufficient and provide more of its own services, from those focused on wellness to those built to bring community members together.
“We’ve always talked about being self-sufficient. We don’t need to farm out different things, it’s all here now,” StandingCloud said. “That’s a part of the wellness equation, it’s all right here, self-sustaining."
A space for everyone
The main mission of the new center, however, is to help create memories. This goal is reflected in the venue’s name: Giminjimendaamin Ezhichigeyang, which means “we’re remembering what we’re doing” in Ojibwe.
“The whole concept is to do things that we can remember,” StandingCloud explained. “Oshkiimaajitahdah’s main mission is helping our families, our tribal communities, and we can’t really help them without getting more involved in their lives. This is a way to do that.”
The importance of the new space and its potential to help bring together families and communities to celebrate was highlighted throughout the grand opening ceremony, as different members of the Red Lake Tribal Council took to the stage.
“I think that’s really what makes us special here in Red Lake: our people. We celebrate who we are, and this is a place of celebration,” said Tribal Secretary Sam Strong.
The journey to celebrating the new space wasn’t an easy one, however, as the project experienced a number of different challenges and delays before its grand opening, which had originally been scheduled for December of last year.
“We were trying to shoot for December 2021, but little things kept pushing it back,” StandingCloud explained. “It went to March, then it went to May, then it went to July … We experienced so many different delays in our construction, but now we have a chance to celebrate.”
Many of the delays came down to problems with supply chains, as the project struggled to source materials and other resources.
“COVID really hit the supply chains,” StandingCloud explained. “All that contributed to delays, delays, delays, and we aren’t the only ones who experienced them.”
Now that it’s completed, however, the Oshkiimaajitahdah team is looking toward the future. Ashley Cook, Giminjimendaamin Ezhichigeyang’s banquet manager, has already begun booking different events, from concerts to comedy shows.
“I’m excited to plan things here for everybody,” Cook said. “There’s a whole lot of things we could do here to make memories and have a good time.”
With the venue’s multiple amenities and different goals, the hope is that it can become a source of pride for the Red Lake community and host some of the best moments of people’s lives.
“It’s not just for us, it’s for everybody,” StandingCloud said. “That’s the concept of this building, we want people to come here and celebrate.”