The Red Lake Humanities Center housed the tribe’s Seven Clans Casinos since the birth of Indian gaming to 2010. On the Wednesday, January 25 grand opening, the forming gaming center officially became the Red Lake Nation Fitness Center.
The new fitness center features state of the art machines including “bikes, elliptical [machines], treadmills, medicine balls, free weights, a universal gym and a big screen TV,” said Ron Lussier, the center’s activities and cultural director. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Originally built in the 1970s, in addition to serving as the former home for the casino, the Red Lake Humanities Center was used for hockey games and swimming. It also has housed tribal programs such as Head Start and college classes. The versatile center has also served as the venue for funerals, boxing matches, concerts, bingo and powwows, amongst other events.
When Indian Gaming began, the Humanities Center was used—for a short-lived time—as a bingo hall with a casino on the north end. The bingo hall lasted only a short time, but the casino lasted until early 2010 when a new first class casino was built near the south reservation line.
“This part of the Humanities Center will be known as the Red Lake Rec Center,” Lussier said. “This will be more than a fitness center, and we will expand on what we have. Two new portable basketball hoops grace each end of the shiny hard wood floor.
There is now a men’s basketball league and a boxing club that use the facility. We’ll encourage more walkers to walk the perimeter especially during inclement weather, which should also be a nice access for the elder nutrition site.”
Elderly nutrition is located on the north end and is entered at the door of the old casino.
Lussier expects the Humanities/Rec Center to be a hub of activity. “When we have basketball games here, it’s not unusual to have a hundred people come to watch,” said Lussier. “We will also have co-ed volleyball. The seventh and eighth grade teams practice here, and High school girls basketball plays here once in awhile.”
Down the road, Lussier would like to see more and other activities, especially for youth. “It’s so important that youth have something to do on the Rez,” said Lussier. “I want to not only see the kinds of recreation that are current, I’d also like to see more social things for youth, perhaps dances or concerts, a way for young people to get together.”
Part of the Red Center is supported with an agreement with Pepsi Cola. “Since Pepsi is exclusive in our casinos, we get rebates from them at both the Thief River Falls and Warroad Casinos do a Youth Foundation Golf Tournament and the proceeds are given to youth recreation,” said Lussier.