The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians celebrate the opening of their new Maliseet Health and Wellness Center, funded in part by HUD's ICDBG program.
The new $2.5 million, 10,800 square foot, Maliseet Health and Wellness Center is the successful culmination of 24 years of dedicated work. A very modest health service program at the beginning (with a doctor seeing tribal patients part time in a converted home on the reservation), it expanded over the years until 2009 when Tribal Council blessed plans for a full-service, on-reservation health and wellness center. This three-year project was jointly funded by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians (HBMI) and competitively awarded funds from HUD's Indian Community Development Block Grant program (ICDBG), Indian Health Services and USDA Rural Development.
Chief Brenda Commander welcomed the more than 100 well-wishers, including Tribal Elders, Tribal Council, representatives from other tribes and elected officials, funders and friends. Chief Commander explained to the crowd that the average life expectancy of tribal members is only 53 years, with members suffering high rates of illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and PTSD; thus making the development of the facility a priority of the tribe.
"The purpose of this health and wellness center is to raise the health status and the quality of life to the highest level, while promoting cultural values, honoring Maliseet tradition and respecting the dignity of each tribal member," the Chief explained. The new center will allow space for ambulatory patient care, behavioral health services, wellness activities for all ages and administrative functions.
Speaking on behalf of HUD, Elton Jones, of HUD's Eastern Woodlands Office of Native American Programs and its Director of Grants Management Division, stated that the tribe has become very successful in accessing the very competitive ICDBG program and congratulated the tribe on a number of laudable projects made possible by the dedication of HBMI's tribal Council.
Project funding breakdown:
- $1,425,000 Indian Health Services (HIS) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
- $100,000 IHS
- $600,000 HUD ICDBG
- $250,000 USDA RD Community Facilities