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Associated Press, Published March 23 2009

Three Affiliated Tribes getting aid for center

Obama spending bill includes $17 million for health care facility promised decades ago

NEW TOWN, N.D. – The Three Affiliated Tribes were promised a new health clinic decades ago in return for land lost to the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River. They’re finally getting it.

A spending bill signed by President Barack Obama includes $17 million for a new health care facility on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Money has been authorized by Congress before but never actually appropriated.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Jim Foote, project manager for the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center. “Perseverance is the key. This council didn’t give up.”

The health care center will be built on 120 acres that the Three Affiliated Tribes own north of Fort Berthold Community College in New Town. Most of the design work is expected to be done by June, with officials awarding the construction contract later that month.

“It’s just historic,” Foote said.

The health center is to open in early 2011. It will be six times larger than the Minne-Tohe Health Center west of New Town, which has been the main medical facility since the 1960s, and will have about three times the staff. Fort Berthold Community College is to help with training, Foote said.

“My thoughts and those of the entire Tribal Council are with the many members of the tribe who are no longer with us and with our elders who fought for this facility over the past 60 years,” said Tribal Chairman Marcus Levings.

The name of the new center is from the community of Elbowoods, which had a hospital with the same name. Elbowoods was flooded when Garrison Dam was built.

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