Potawatomi look at land in South BendPublished 3:52pm Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians expressed hopes to acquire land in South Bend, Ind., through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The land acquisition could mean the construction of a number of tribal buildings, including housing, governmental facilities or a possible gaming facility.
However, contrary to several local media reports, the land has not been designated specifically for a gaming facility.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for land in the South Bend area that the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians requested be taken into trust by the BIA. The land, according to the intent listed in the Federal Register, totals more than 160 acres two miles southwest of downtown South Bend.
According to an official statement from the Band, the use of the land is open to many possibilities, but the original focus is to build housing for tribal citizens in Indiana and governmental facilities.
“We’re required to list any possible use of the land that the tribe may have,” Paige Risser, Pokagon Band communications director, said Thursday. “A casino is listed as a possibility, but our focus currently is on government facilities and housing for tribal citizens.”
In the statement from the Band, Pokagon Band Chairman Matt Wesaw said elder tribal members and low-income citizens struggle in the South Bend area and the land may be a way to help them.
“The Pokagon Band’s Indiana residents, particularly our elders and low-income citizens, face significant challenges in finding suitable housing and accessing our health, education and family services programs,” Wesaw said. “As a result, we are evaluating potential projects and initiatives that will serve our citizens, as well as area residents, including members of other Native American tribes and the state.”
According to the Federal Register notice, a public scoping meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 and will be open for public comment from South Bend residents.