DUNSEITH A Dunseith group is working to reduce poverty in its community.
Dunseith is one of 15 current Horizons communities in the state of North Dakota. The program is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, and facilitated by North Dakota State University Extension Service.
Horizons is a community leadership program aimed at reducing poverty in small, rural (less than 5,000 poplation, at least 10 percent poverty) communities faced with economic decline and demographic change.
Submitted Photo --
Claudette McLeod, left, and Sandra Poitra, members of the Dunseith Horizons Steering Committee, are shown Aug. 8 during the Horizons community meal at the Dunseith powwow. The Dunseith Horizons served 500 meals to powwow participants and attendees, with the meals funded by the Northwest Area Foundation.
The Dunseith community had more people living in poverty than the Turtle Mountain Reservation itself, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, said Delvin Cree who is contact/steering committee member with Dunseith Horizons.
"We live in the fourth district off the reservation but we are still part of the reservation proper because of the McCumber Agreement signed in 1904," said Cree. "We are in a unique situation because we can use tax credits and/or tax exemption as part of our development projects because of Indian trust land located in the Dunseith area. We also have the option to work with state government off Indian trust land to make projects happen. Both would be beneficial."
Dunseith is part of the third phase of the Horizons program which is called Horizons III, Cree said.
Other communities who are part of the Horizons III are Rolla, Leeds, Fordville, Lakota, Minnewaukan, Fessenden, Underwood, Fort Yates, McClusky, Tolna, Hannaford, Marion, Napoleon and Sheldon.
The Dunseith community got involved in Horizons when Gail Gette, Towner County extension agent in Cando who is regional Horizons coach, approached the community in September 2008 to discuss the project, Cree said. "Nineteen community members attended the informational meeting and left learning more about building leadership and reducing poverty issues in the Dunseith area."
An application process with required poverty statistics and other pertinent information was needed to be accepted as an eligible Horizons community, Cree said. "I submitted the application and the Dunseith community was accepted."
Since October 2008, the group has organized, conducted study circles to help people understand poverty and develop ideas to reduce it, built leadership and taken part in events in the community, among its efforts completed or to be completed.
Currently, the Dunseith group has six "core" steering committee members and overall, there are 10 people who have been part of the steering committee meetings, Cree said.
The group co-sponsored an "open house" for the Turtle Mountain Suicide Prevention Program.
During the Dunseith powwow in August, they served meals to more than 500 Dunseith powwow participants and attendees, with the meals funded by the Northwest Area Foundtion.
They developed and circulated a community-wide survey to at least 15 percent of total population. The community survey taken for the Dunseith area and U.S. Census information will be used for future funding and grant purposes, Cree said.
The group is compiling the results from the community surveys to develop a community vision statement that results in solid action on leadership and poverty according to information from compiled surveys.
Other plans include getting more Dunseith community people involved.
On Sept. 23, steering committee members Jeff Baker, Sandra Poitra and Cree took part in the Horizons Partnership Luncheon and workshop in Bismarck. The event was held to facilitate all N.D. Horizons communities' connections with partners, services, resources and programs across the state.
Dunseith Horizons' plans for March 2010 are to celebrate Dunseith's completion of Horizons with other North Dakota Horizons' communities in Bismarck, Cree said.
The Dunseith group hopes to receive the $10,000 grant from Northwest Area Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, to sustain community strategies for poverty reduction and leadership, Cree said.
"I was approached last week by a Dunseith school official to see if the Horizons group would be part of a planned Thanksgiving meal put on by the high school students. A proposal was sent to our tribal officials for their sponsorship and participation also," Cree said.
"We trained some of our high school students in leadership development last year when we did the Leadership Plenty Training. It's nice knowing they working in collaboration to make something so caring and positive for the community. What's more important, they are taking a leadership role to do it," he added.
For more about Dunseith Horizons visit (Dunseith.communityblogs.us/). A link to the community survey will be posted on the blog shortly.