Indiana homeland restored, celebrated in South Bend
On November 18, 2016, Chairman John P. Warren received news from leadership at the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the BIA had approved the tribe’s application to take into trust 166 acres of Pokagon Band land in the city of South Bend. Four years since the application had been submitted—and hundreds of years in the making—this historic decision restores the Pokagon Band’s ancestral homeland in South Bend and marks the first sovereign tribal land in the state of Indiana.
At a celebration and media event November 29 at Four Winds Field, the Band marked the occasion with drumming and singing, and remarks thanking citizens and area partners. Tribal Council ceremonially gifted blankets to South Bend and Indiana leaders who had supported the progress of the project. The tribe shared plans for the tribal village, which will begin with six homes by mid-2017, and could eventually include 44 housing units and a community center along with facilities for health services and other tribal government programs. A police substation will be built on adjacent land. Construction started the next day.
“This approval will help break down barriers to services for our tribal citizens and enable us to build the necessary healthcare, family services, education facilities, and homes,” said Chairman Warren.
The following week the Gaming Authority and Four Winds leadership hosted a media event to detail Four Winds South Bend. The first phase included 175,000 square feet and 1,800 Class II gaming devices, four restaurants, a player’s lounge, a coffee shop, two bars, a retail outlet, and approximately 4,500 parking spaces including an enclosed parking structure. The casino construction was completed in January of 2018 and employs approximately 1,200 people. Approximately 700 jobs were created during construction.
“Over the last two centuries, the Pokagon Band 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 ancestors would be of this historic achievement,” said Bob Moody, Vice-Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. “Restoration of our homeland will preserve our legacy for the next seven generations of Pokagon citizens and ensure that our ongoing economic contributions to South Bend will continue to grow.”
The land is located between Prairie Avenue, U.S. 31, and Locust Road in South Bend.