Indiana Goes Indian Again

Here in southwest South Bend, a gritty section of town where huge trucking, warehousing, and manufacturing firms intermingle with modest neighborhoods of single family homes, chain linked auto repair firms and small businesses, the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Nation had reclaimed 166 acres of land, accepted into trust for the tribe last year by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
It’s not much, but it will be room enough for tribal housing, governmental complexes, health services – and, reportedly, a first in Indiana casino, 100 miles southeast from Chicago.
“For the first time in 200 years, Indiana has Indian Country in it again,” said Pokagon Band of Potawatomi tribal chairman John P. Warren, at a news conference held November 30th, 2016.
“Over the last two centuries, the (Anishinaabe) ceded over 5.2 million acres of our homeland to the United States; 185 years later, as we reclaim only a modest portion of our homeland, we take comfort in knowing how proud our eancestors would be of this historic achievement,” added tribal vice chair Bob Moody via press release to that same news conference, according to the South Bend Tribune.
Regardless of the politics of Native Nation casinos, whether viewed as profiting from a harmless passion for playful betting or from a hard core addiction to gambling, the Pokagon have made some very specific commitments with South Bend as to how percentages of expected casino profits will be allocated. They include:
$500,000 to improving South Bend Schools
$500,000 to improving care for newborns in ICU at South Bend’s Memorial Children’s Hospital and $2.2 million to improve Howard Park. downtown.
Annual payments to the city will be in the $1 to $2 million range, according to press reports. The tribe runs casinos in Michigan and has some experience managing projects of this size.
A waiting list of 100 Anishinaabe members in Indiana and Michigan are waiting for the availability of housing units being built on the reclaimed tribal land. More than 2,000 well paying jobs are expected to be created.

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