Project Stories

Spirit Lake Tribe Community Center

Photos courtesy of EWB-USA Central Houston Professional Chapter
Spirit Lake, North Dakota
EWB-USA Central Houston Professional Chapter

Community History
The beneficiary community includes the 4,000 enrolled members living on the Spirit Lake Tribe Reservation located in east central North Dakota. The tribe has struggled with chronic poverty, unemployment and the effects of two decades of flooding in the Devil’s Lake Basin, which the reservation borders.

Rising waters in this closed-basin lake have triggered a series of cascading impacts on the Spirit Lake reservation since 1993, including:

  • loss of several hundred homes and farms
  • loss of prime agricultural land
  • extensive damage to road, sewage, and power infrastructure
  • hydrostatic pressure issues with roads acting as dams
  • damage to public facilities and private property
  • for the past 20 years, a majority of the tribe’s resources have been used toward fighting this ongoing flooding.

The Spirit Lake Tribe of Benson County, N.D., has been experiencing 20 years of rising water from Devil’s Lake, which has caused flooding with environmental and economic impacts. In April 2013, the Spirit Lake Tribe was officially declared a disaster area and the community is currently working with FEMA to implement the tribe’s emergency plan. The Tokio Pantry, which has previously served as a food distribution and community center to the entire Spirit Lake Nation, has been shut down and demolished because of mold issues from the flooding and an insufficient septic system. New housing has been proposed in the surrounding rural area, and the community center plays a key role in restoring the community.

Conceptual Design

  • Meeting room
  • 2 Offices
  • Daycare
  • Kitchen
  • Restrooms
  • Storage room (non-food storage)
  • Janitor room (washer/dryer)
  • Mechanical room

Project Goals
This project enhances the long-term sustainability of the tribe. The facility will be able to serve the community in a safe and healthy environment.

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