January 6, True North Health purchased buildings at 516 and 514 Beltrami Avenue. Our vision from the beginning has included a facility that could house a cooperative of small health related businesses. A place where we deliver health care that is comfortable, safe, friendly, and beautiful. A place where people can receive a full array of integrative health services from trusted professionals. Space that fosters relaxation, hope, and healing. I’ve always talked about the “five year plan” but here we are barely 15 months into this venture! I’ll be sharing details about the building and its renovation in future posts but now I’d like to reflect a bit on the place and its history.
The buildings sit on the east side of Beltrami, next to the old Bemidji Clinic. Our back window looks out on Library Park with the lake just visible through the trees. One of our neighbors is the new Watermark Center. The Tea and Gift Shoppe, run by Holly Howes for the past 12 years, will continue to occupy the front part of 514. Stellher Human Services was the most recent tenant of 516, started and owned by Ellen and Stephen Jacklyn from whom we purchased the property. You may remember this as the old home of North Country Business Products, owned by Joanne and Gary Torfin.
At the closing I received the abstract of title for the land on which these buildings rest. The first entry, dated October 20, 1883, is “The United States of America By Chester A. Arthur, President, to Phillip Reilly” followed quickly by a transfer to John Martin Lumber Company in 1884. This gave me pause. Shaynowishkung came to live near bemijigamaag, the address that named him and the town, in 1882. Just last summer after years of work and struggle we, settler and native, honored him on the shores of “the lake with crossing waters” with the dedication of his statue that stands just a couple blocks from True North Health. We acknowledged the good and noble parts of our common story as well as those that carry pain and shame. The land carries our history. The good parts and the bad.
Shortly after the closing, a few of us gathered at the buildings to recognize the history and spirit of this small piece of land where we will make a home for the work of True North Health. Simone Senogles invited us to set intention for the space and remember that this has always been sacred ground. We talked about painful experiences that brought us here and the hope of healing we carry for us as professionals, our patients, and our community. We prayed and smudged and dedicated ourselves to this purpose. We accepted our challenge to become part of the long history of this land in a good way.
In the coming weeks I’ll share more about our dreams and plans for True North Health but for now I will give thanks to the Creator for this gift and opportunity. I will rest and reflect in the quiet space between honoring our ancestors and bringing hope to our children. All space is sacred space. All ground is holy ground. Walk well on the earth today.