Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is located in Cloquet,
Minnesota, just off Interstate 35. The campus is situated
in a beautiful setting, a 38-acre former tree farm of 60-foot
tall majestic red pines. The college sits on top of a bluff
overlooking Cloquet, a community of approximately 11,000
people. The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee offices
are approximately three miles away from the college.
The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College campus is the product
of extensive consultation among tribal and civic leaders, business
people, educators, and students. This group defined their needs
and, with the help of a skilled architect, created a campus reflecting
the integrated cultures of the Northeastern Minnesota area.
The symbolic concepts integrated in the design include: The
sacred circle and the wheel represented in the campus
ring road, which has its northerly slopes planted to
represent the bear paw. Together,
the bear paw and the circle represent strength and protection.
The four directions and the cross are formed by the 90-foot-wide
clearing in the middle of the campus. The 70-foot-wide building
is centered in the clearing. The four arms of the building represent
the four directions, an American Indian symbol representing greater
harmony in life.
The four colors of the Fond du Lac Reservation are red, black,
white, and yellow. These colors are used on the four exterior
metal walls of the building, and are also representative of the
four directions: north, south, east and west. The theme of diversity
is represented in the many different construction materials visible
throughout the academic building, and in the varying sizes and
shapes of the windows in the building.
From above, the thunderbird dominates the shape of the academic
building. Extensive use of large windows provides earth and sky
views of the outdoor environment, and represent the importance
of having a vision for the future. The building design combines
straight lines and circular elements to depict the college's
role of bringing people from different backgrounds together in
a safe, respectful place for everyone.
The circular amphitheater is topped with a blue dome to represent
the sky. Large floor-to-ceiling windows separate the two halves,
indoors and outdoors, of the amphitheater circle. Floor tiles
and carpeting in the amphitheater area are green and brown to
represent the earth.
Several works of art are featured in prominent locations on
campus. "Ojibway Stream," composed of stainless
steel and river rocks by artist Truman Lowe, is a sculpture
about streams and the importance of water to life. Located
among the pine trees along the walkway to the main entrance
of the college, the sculpture is in the form of a bench 25 feet
in length. Patterns cut into the stainless steel resemble
the river current surface movements of water. A rocky stream
bed is visible below.
The mirror-like surface of the bench reflects the trees
and sky in summer, and appears to glow against the snow cover
"Chiringa," a totem sculpture in bronze by George
Morrison, is perched upon a large igneous rock located in a clearing
in the woods. For this sculpture, Morrison was inspired by the
many forms, variations, and meanings of totems created by peoples
and civilizations since the dawn of time. The "Chiringa" form
in particular, has been inspired by Central Australian aborigines.
Morrison's totemic piece is not specific in meaning, nor does
it tell the story of a clan by objective marks and imagery. This
sculpture is a contemporary and abstract version of many kinds
The larger-than-life size breast plate located on the amphitheater
wall was created by Cynthia Holmes, a faculty member in the Art
Department at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. This
piece, "Niigahnii Gwuhne'yaush" (Leading Feather),
honors Lester Jack Briggs, the first President of Fond du Lac
Tribal and Community College. Because of Jack's heart and spirit,
he was larger than life, and Holmes wanted to ensure the campus
had an adequate representation of Briggs for the future. The
materials also reflect the bridge between communities and cultures
that come to learn together at the college. The hairpipes are
made of clay, representative of the Native American culture.
The beads are fishing net floats, representative of the non-native
settlers to the area who fished the waters of Lake Superior.