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The mission of the Pokagon Band Department of Education is to provide opportunities to promote lifelong learning among all tribal citizens. The Education Department also provides educational services to other Native Americans in the ten-county service area who are attending public schools. 


Easy Access Forms:





            Simon Pokagon Memorial Research Library

            Birth-12th Grade Programs & Services

            Higher Education

            Nation Building

            Early Childhood Education

            Zagbëgon: An Early Learning & Development Academy



Marisela Goodrich - Administrative Assistant & Higher Education Contact - (269) 782-0887

Kristie Bussler - Educational Resource Specialist - (269) 462-4222

Susan Doyle - Educational Associate - (269) 462-4229

Skye DePaul - Record & Information Coordinator - (269) 462-4202


Department of Education - Phone: (269) 782-0887 | Fax: (269) 782-0985

Zagbegon Early Learning and Development Academy - Phone: (269) 783-2469

General Education - Email:

Higher Education - Email:


Pokagon Band Administration Building                     

58620 Sink Road                                                        

Dowagiac, MI 49047                                                   

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Simon Pokagon Research Library  <back to top

Click here to enter library

To log into the digital library, you will use your tribal ID number (Card Number) and your date of birth (Birthdate), with the letters “PB” before your tribal ID number. The login also requires at four (4) numbers, therefore those members with only two (2) or three (3) numbers in their enrollment number will need to include zeros after the letters PB to be granted access.



Card Number: PB0001

Birthdate (MMDDYY): 010101


The Pokagon Band Department of Education went to a digital library to give all citizens access to the library. This development is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, so citizens can expect to see more digital books and resources available in the future. The library is named for Simon Pokagon, one of our earliest patriarchs and authors. He wrote Queen of the Woods and spoke at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, starting a rich tradition of learning and striking a good balance between culture and education. The library no longer carries physical books unless they are research volumes, which can only be used in the library.

Click here to suggest a digital book


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Birth-12th Grade Programs and Services <back to top

The overall mission of the Pokagon Birth through 12th Grade Programs and Services is to provide resources and opportunities to enrich the academic development of all Pokagon youth. Certain services and programs are also available for other non-Pokagon Native Americans.


Educational Records Release & Permission to Photograph Form (Ed. Release)  - Ed. Release Form - Title VI Form

The Ed. Release is the application required for Pokagon citizens from Birth to 12th  grade to become eligible for programs and services provided by the Department of Education. The purpose of this form is to provide the department with pertinent data and gives permission for staff to access necessary educational information and determines whether permission is granted for students to be photographed.


  • Pokagon Citizen
  • Those attending a public school in the Ten-County Service Area are required to complete the Title VI (506 Form) this includes those who are not Pokagon but are a tribal citizen, child or grandchild of a tribal citizen from a Federally Recognized Tribe, State Recognized Tribe, Terminated Tribe, Alaska Native, or member of an organized Indian group that received a grant under the Indian Education Act of 1988 as it was in effect October 19, 1994.

Time Frame: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022

- A current form must be submitted to the Department of Education each academic year for the citizen to be eligible to apply for any programs or services offered by the Department.

School Stipend: $150*

*Students who are enrolled in PreK (must be 4 years old by September 1 of the current year) through 12th grade will receive the school stipend once the Ed. Release is processed. This stipend is for purchases which will aid the student academically.

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Kë Nadmadmen: Tutoring Program (PreK-12th Grade & GED students) - Tutoring Request Form


  • Pokagon citizens PreK-12th Grade
  • Title VI PreK-12th Grade (non-Pokagon tribal members)
  • Pokagon citizens pursuing a G.E.D.

Program Funds: $2,500 *This program is direct-pay to tutors and centers only, no reimbursements available

Time Frame: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022

Tutoring Options:

- Accredited Learning Center (online or in-person): Facilities which employ certified teachers or certified tutors to work with students on core academic areas, study skills, or test preparation

- Auxiliary Tutor (online or in-person): Certified Teacher (individual with a current Teaching Certificate) or individual with an academic area focused bachelor’s degree or a college student currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program and has successfully completed 60 or more credits (Contact Kristie Bussler for information in becoming an Auxiliary Tutor for the Band)

To Become an Auxiliary Tutor: Click Here for the Auxiliary Tutor Application

Forms Required: Ed. Release and Tutoring Request

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Enrichment Program (Birth-12th Grade)Enrichment Program Form - W9 Form

The Enrichment Program is designed to provide the opportunities for Pokagon youth to participate in enrichment camps, such as activity camps, career camps, etc., life skills programs, such as drivers training, music lessons, musical instruments, etc., or school/activity sponsored field trips, such as registration, hotel fees (does not cover cost of fuel, souvenir/gift, or food).

Eligibility: Pokagon citizen Birth through 12th grade

Program Funds: $500

Time Frame:August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022

Forms Required: Ed. Release, Enrichment and supporting documents to the request.

* Enrichment Form required for each new request for payment/reimbursement

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Special Request Program - Special Request Form - W9 Form

The purpose of the Special Request is to provide extra services for students with special academic needs. This program will cover Dual Enrollment cost not covered by the school district. Also, assistance for the G.E.D./Alternative Education Programs is offered through this program this includes the cost of study materials, GED Ready pre-test, and GED testing at any facility in the United States (see for possible online options).

**GED completion incentive/stipend is no longer available**

Eligibility: Pokagon citizen

Program Funds: $500

Time Frame: August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022

Forms Required: Ed. Release (Birth-12th Grade/GED), Special Request Form, and supporting documents for the request. GED requests will need to include the GED Application-Test Payment Request Form.

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Educational Excellence Initiative Program (K-12th Grade)  - EEI Pre App Form - EEI Application Form

The Educational Excellence Initiative (EEI) is designed to encourage Pokagon Band students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade to strive for educational excellence, to attend school regularly, and to improve their academic performance. This “Invest in You” program allows citizens to increase funding for educational programs they frequently use, thereby increasing their knowledge, skills and ability to flourish in post-secondary educational institution.

Eligibility: Pokagon citizen K-12th  grade

Time Frame: Grade Submission Deadline - October 1, 2021* (EEI Pre-Application Form)

                       Fund Usage – August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022

Funding & Resources Offered: 

Funding amounts are available according to the following: 

These supplemental funds will be added to another educational program such as: Enrichment Program, Special Requests, and Tutoring. 

Forms Required:

* If a child was absent due to having COVID or being quarantined those won’t be counted against them. If the school put those absences on the report card, we will need documentation to show that those absences were due to COVID. Some schools may have automatically put the absences under excused absences.

Youth Transportation IDA - Youth Transportation IDA Form – Tribal youth between the ages of 13 and 17 are able to take advantage of a 1:1 match rate from Chi Ishobak for monthly savings contributions up to $25 for the purchase of an automobile.  This program has a potential 60-month savings period which could result in $3,000 ($1,500 participant savings & $1,500 match funds) total savings for a new car.  Teen Financial Wellness education is the second requirement to receive matching funds.  This program helps our youth to create pathways to financial well-being, establish banking relationships, and empower the accomplishment of goals. Must setup an account with Chi Ishobak prior to funds being transferred over. 

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Student Advocacy

The Student Advocacy program is designed to work alongside parents and students that have had actions or meetings initiated for the student as a result of poor academic performance, behavioral challenges, or special educational requirements. Relevant DoE staff will attend meetings to support and advise parents as they work with the school to ensure the best environment for the student’s academic progress.

Student Advocacy applies to all Pokagon Band and Title VI students who are eligible to receive additional support services from the Pokagon Band Department of Education. Current Ed. Release on file is required to receive advocacy support.

Contact: Kristie BusslerEducational Resource Specialist - (269) 462-4222 or Susan DoyleEducational Associate - (269) 462-4229

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Higher Education <back to top

The overall mission of the Higher Education Assistance is to provide the supportive services necessary to encourage Pokagon tribal citizens to attain a certificate, vocational, undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate degree.


Services Provided

  • Special Request Assistance up to $500/year reimbursement
  • Academic Testing
  • Application fees, graduate school entrance fees, & exams
  • Specialized equipment or uniforms (such as nursing shoes & scrubs)
  • Mandatory Parking fees for college students

*All other Special Requests will be reviewed with supporting documentation


Student Housing Assistance <back to top

$1,250/Per Semester for full-time students or

$833/Per Trimester for full-time students,

$625/ Summer Semester for full-time students

*Other housing eligibility requirements can be found in the Higher Education Assistance Program Policy.


HEAP Application and all other forms needed:

HEAP Fillable Application

Direct Deposit Form

Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver Form

Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver FAQ's

HEAP Class Withdrawal Reimbursement Form


Questions? Contact us:


College Internship Program <back to top  

There will not be a summer 2021 college internship program. Those interested in participating next year are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 Vaccinations, see the COVID-19 Citizen Vaccination Information page for more details.   


Higher Education Assistance Program (HEAP) <Higher Education top  <back to top

Purpose: The Department of Education shall provide additional financial aid to eligible Pokagon Band citizens that are enrolled in higher education at an accredited institution. To apply for the Higher Education Assistance Program, please submit the completed Higher Education Assistance Application (below) and all forms as attachment to

Starting Fall 2021 (2021-2022) all students will be eligible for 100% maximum eligibility for the following: tuition / fees, book stipend, and housing. 

Any person who seeks to participate in the program, including current students, shall complete and submit to the Department an application within 3-6 weeks before payment is due with your Education Institution. 

In addition to the completed application students must submit:

  • "Education Reimbursement" selected on Direct Deposit Form with proof of account (voided check);
  • proof applied for FAFSA (submit once per Academic Year (ex: 2019-2020)
  • copy of current unofficial transcript (within two weeks of application submission), high school diploma, or General Equivalency Diploma;
  • copy of official class schedule from Educational Institution; 
  • copy of current lease, mortgage statement or other acceptable supporting documentation (if seeking housing assistance).

The student should submit their official billing statement from their Educational Institution to the Department as soon as it is available. 


Tuition and Fee Assistance

Vocational degree:  up to $3000/year
Associate degree:  $200 per credit/hour (Up to 18 credits)
Bachelor’s degree:  $400 per credit/hour (Up to 18 credits)
Graduate degree:  $600 per credit / hour (Up to 15 credits)
Post-Graduate degree:  $800 per credit / hour (Up to 15 credits)

Student’s assistance amount will be based on their unmet needs from their school bill. The maximum amount allotted is noted above.


Book Stipend Assistance

  • Vocational degree - up to $3000/year
  • Associate or Bachelor’s degree - $150 per class (up to 6 classes)
  • Grad. or Post-Grad. degree - $300 per class (up to 4 classes)



  • be a Band Citizen;
  • enrolled in an Educational Institution;
  • apply with the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
  • submit proof applied for FAFSA;
  • apply for the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver if the person:
  1. is a Michigan resident;
  2. has a blood quantum of ¼ or more from a Michigan tribe; and
  3. is attending a public Educational Institution in Michigan;
  • apply for all eligible campus-based financial aid;
  • have and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale (undergraduate students);
  • have and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (graduate students);
  • if on probation, must follow and adhere to any Academic Improvement Plan;
  • apply for direct deposit; and
  • appoint the Band to be an authorized payment request user.


Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver

The Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver (MITW) is available through the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MCDR), which waives tuition for Michigan residence, attending a Michigan public college/university who have a Native American Blood Quantum of ¼ or more as certified by your Tribal Enrollment Department.

First time applicants of the MITW, will submit their completed forms to Pokagon Band Enrollment Staff with a photocopy of your Michigan Driver's License or state-issued Michigan Identification Card and a photocopy of your Tribal ID.

The MITW will stay in affect and will not need to be resubmitted unless, you are transferring schools and/or returning to school after a gap in pursuing your higher education. These changes will be submitted directly to Melissa Kiesewetter MDCR at

You may visit MDCR,4613,7-138--240889--,00.html for more information. Below is the application along with MITW FAQs.


Free Application for Federal Financial Aid

You can file the FAFSA for the upcoming school year after October 1, though you can apply for your PIN# anytime. You must apply every year you are in school. There is no cost to apply for the FAFSA. (external link)


Contact Us

For more information, contact your high school’s guidance office, your college financial aid office, Marisela Goodrich, at the Pokagon Band Department of Education (888) 330-1234.

Marisela Goodrich Higher Education Contact
(269) 782-0887

Department of Education
(269) 782-0887 or (888) 330-1234 Fax (269) 782-0985



Nation Building <back to top

Elders Program

The Elders Program is designed to provide quarterly workshops that will improve the quality of life of the Pokagon Band elder population. This program allows Pokagon Band elders access to a variety of services that will fulfill their needs as respected elder members of the community and as keepers of Pokagon Band traditions. Currently in person activities are not available however, free online learning videos can be found on GCF Global,, this website guides you to YouTube tutorials on many different items from technology, math, and reading, etc.


Honoring Our Graduates  <Nation Building top <back to top

The Department of Education graduation wall is designed to give recognition to students who demonstrate the characteristics which further the mission and goals of Pokagon Band Department of Education by completing programs that represent standards of achievement and excellence.

Student Eligibility Requirements:

  • Pokagon Band citizen
  • graduated with an High School, High School Equivalent, Associate, Bachelor, Master or Doctorate degree
  • copy of diploma or transcript

Honor Cord Requests <Nation Building top <back to top

We are honored to gift you with the Four Direction Honor Cord. These Honor Cords can be worn by the graduate at the time of graduation and be kept as a memento of your connection to the Pokagon Band and the Four Directions. The traditions of the Potawatomi honor the Four Directions of East, South, North and West during prayer, during ceremony and throughout the day.

Each direction has unique significance.

  • The Eastern direction is represented by the color of “Yellow”
  • The Southern direction is represented by the color of “Red”
  • The Western direction is represented by the color of “Black”
  • The Northern direction is represented by the color of “White”

Honor cords are available for High School, College, University, and Vocational graduates please apply: Here (click this link)

Tribal College Partnerships <Nation Building top <back to top

We are in the developmental stages of the Tribal College Partnership Program and look forward to the many opportunities Tribal Colleges have to offer our Tribal students. The opportunity to blend higher education and honored traditions in our tribal communities are indeed unique and provide a bright future for the next generations.


Early Childhood Development <back to top

Due to covid-19, events are on hold until further notice.  Please check back for updates.


Zagbëgon: An Early Learning & Development Academy <back to top

Zagbëgon means sprouts in Potawatomi. Our Zagbëgon have grown from seeds and now have their own roots. Zagbëgon are peeking out from gokmeskinan (our grandmother earth) so they can look about their world and begin to form their identities and grow stronger with all of creation.

Apply Here

Please take note:  


Our Philosophy of Early Childhood Education 

We believe that every child is a unique creation of the Creator, and that the body, mind and spirit of each child should be nurtured. As such, we seek to meet each child where he or she is emotionally, developmentally, spiritually, educationally and socially, and we apply these principles to each facet of our planning, instruction and activities. Children will experience fun and friendships under the guidance of teachers and staff who embrace and model the culture and heritage of the Potawatomi people.


Cultural Infusion

Culture infusion is a major focus for any tribal community and needs to be deeply secured within our following generations. Providing cultural pride within our future generations must be one of our most sincere obligations as stewards of the next seven generations.

Zagbëgon will integrate cultural teachings whenever possible when providing educational opportunities for student learning. The need to work across all borders are important but preserving Pokagon Band Potawatomi unique identity is a responsibility that garners serious attention.


Curriculum Development

The initiative to assist in the building of a culturally appropriate curriculum is a strong focus of Zagbëgon and reaches out to the many valuable and treasured opportunities to create a community with social commitment.

The value realized from thoughtful and caring instruction is the prime focus for curriculum development. With assistance and guidance from Language and Culture lessons will be developed that instill a cultural identity and purpose and encourages future growth. 


All children and their families will have a healthy sense of identity and belonging.


To serve children, families and community by creating a safe and nurturing environment that provides social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and academic support.


Zibé (River Room)
Ages 3-4
Lead: Miss Tammy
Lead: Miss Kellie
Assistant: Miss Carrie


Mtegwagké (Woodlands Room)
Ages 4-5
Lead: Miss Dani
Assistant: Miss Liz


Hours of Operation

8:30 A.M. -2:30 P.M.



  • Must be at least 3 years old by Sept 1
  • Must be potty-trained
  • Applicants will be selected on a first come first serve basis, pending tier status
    • Tier 1: Pokagon Band citizens, siblings, and/or residents in a Pokagon household;
    • Tier 2: Other Native Americans;
    • Tier 3: All Other; Special consideration will be given to PBOPI employees for Tier 3 status
  • Three Social Services referrals per classroom will be reserved for emergency placement status