Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) and United Health Foundation partners to expand access to Substance Abuse Treatment for the Spirit Lake Dakota Community


Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) and United Health Foundation are launching a new partnership to expand access to substance abuse treatment for the Spirit Lake Dakota community and support long-term recovery and wellness. U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp joined in the announcement to mark the beginning of the partnership.

The concern around drug use and alcohol abuse has become so heightened that the Spirit Lake Tribal Council has declared a “state of emergency.” CCCC conducted a comprehensive community assessment that found members of the community ranked access to substance abuse treatment facilities as the No. 1 community health care need.

The new partnership will support the construction and launch of Tiospaye Okciyapi Tipi, which is defined as a home or place for families helping families. This will include the conversion of a former group home into a 15-bed residential substance abuse treatment center for adults in the Spirit Lake Dakota community. The center will serve as the only residential treatment facility in the area that is accessible to those outside the local law enforcement system. The partnership will also provide in-kind expertise and counsel to develop a culturally competent staffing model and cultivate a workforce pipeline for effectively delivering addiction treatment and prevention services in a rural setting.

“Ensuring that all of our citizens have access to health care to help treat substance abuse is a critical step in helping to keep our communities healthy, strong and safe,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. “The devastating effects of substance abuse affect families and communities across our state, and on Spirit Lake it’s particularly dire. That’s why this partnership between United Health Foundation and the Cankdeska Cikana Community College is so critical in addressing this urgent community need. This collaboration will help North Dakotans who need critical care services ensure they can receive those services from care providers right in their community.”

The Cankdeska Cikana Community College is implementing the grant in coordination with the existing Spirit Lake Recovery & Wellness Program and the college’s own students and faculty. Students and faculty from the College’s construction trades department will support renovation activities, and Spirit Lake Recovery & Wellness employees will staff the new residential treatment center.

“As part of Cankdeska Cikana Community College’s mission to build a strong and healthy Dakota community, we are proud to work with United Health Foundation to address a key community need for greater access to substance abuse treatment that supports individuals’ long-term recovery,” said CCCC President Cynthia Lindquist. “This partnership with United Health Foundation is critical in addressing one of our most serious health challenges in a manner that reflects our traditions and culture.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work directly with Cankdeska Cikana Community College to help expand access to care for members of the Spirit Lake Dakota Community,” said UnitedHealth Group CEO David S. Wichmann. “Improving access to care is a fundamental step toward meeting the health care challenges of this community and every community. This is especially critical, as the Spirit Lake Dakota community continues its fight against substance abuse by building out local capacity and capabilities to help those who need treatment right here. Our goal is to work hard every day to earn and keep the community’s trust, one person at a time, as we build a stronger and healthier Spirit Lake Dakota community and North Dakota, together.”

Videos and photographs of the event are available at:

About Cankdeska Cikana Community College
Cankdeska Cikana (Little Hoop) Community College (CCCC) is one of 36 tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the United States that were established in response to the failure of Native students at mainstream institutions. CCCC was chartered by the Spirit Lake Tribal Council in 1975 and has graduated over 800 students. CCCC provides opportunities that lead to student independence and self-sufficiency through academic achievement and continuation of the Spirit Lake Dakota language and culture. CCCC helps build a strong and viable Dakota community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. To learn more visit:

About United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $358 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at