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Published July 31, 2013, 07:02 PM

Spirit Lake Tribe, Benson County celebrate unique partnership

The Spirit Lake Nation has entered an agreement unlike any other in the country. It started a partnership with Benson County. Ten employees from Benson County Social services will move their offices to the reservation to give tribal members closer access to financial aid programs.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

The Spirit Lake Nation has entered an agreement unlike any other in the country. It started a partnership with Benson County. Ten employees from Benson County Social services will move their offices to the reservation to give tribal members closer access to financial aid programs.

The workers from Benson County aren't social workers, but there's hope on both sides as the agreement will also help the tribe's embattled social services program. The workers will move into the "Dakota Tribal Industries" building currently housing the tribal police department. The employees will help administer financial aid programs. Around 90 percent of the people getting financial assistance in Benson County reside on the Spirit Lake Nation. Both the tribe and Benson county hope the closer relationship will help with issues with Spirit Lake social services. Benson County Social Services Director Tom Rime says it's a big challenge, but his group will do what it can to help the tribe.

"Issues there still remain," Rime said. "Recruiting and retaining qualified staff is still a challenge, but i think by being together, talking together, sitting across a table, we can improve our relationship. By being closer to residents we also improve our relationships."

The Benson County workers will start seeing clients in Fort Totten just after Labor Day.

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