In Indiana, the Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians has announced that it will be holding a press conference on Tuesday to discuss a decision by the Bureau Of Indian Affairs to reportedly bless its plan to open a $400 million casino and hotel on just over 160 acres of land near South Bend.
According to a report from The Times Of Northwest Indiana newspaper, the tribe stated that it intends to make remarks “related to the decision by the Bureau Of Indian Affairs to take into trust 166 acres of Pokagon band land located between Prairie Avenue, United States [Route] 31 and Locust Road in the city of South Bend”.
The Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians already operates a trio of Four Winds-branded casinos near the small southwest Michigan cities of Dowagiac, New Buffalo and Hartford and wants to move its operations over the border into Indiana and construct the state’s largest casino with some 216,000 sq ft of gaming space.
The South Bend Tribune newspaper reported that the new development envisages the construction of a Four Winds-branded Class III casino as well as an 18-story and 500-room hotel with a parking deck alongside 44 housing units and tribal government offices. It explained that the project could support up to 2,000 full-time employees and 1,400 construction jobs while generating up to $620 million in annual revenues, of which 2% or no less than $1 million would be earmarked for the city of South Bend. The Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians has additionally agreed to donate $5 million to local community projects and initiatives and collect hotel taxes on behalf of St Joseph County.
The tribe, which has members spread throughout southwestern Michigan and northeast Indiana, received federal recognition in 1994 and applied to have the South Bend land taken into trust on its behalf in 2012. The South Bend Tribune reported that the subsequent four-year review process included an environmental impact statement along with public meetings and comment periods.
“More than four decades ago, the Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan and Indiana (Tribe) submitted an application to the Bureau Of Indian Affairs requesting that we place into trust approximately 165.81 acres of land located in the city of South Bend, Indiana,” read a covering letter attached to the decision and written by Lawrence Roberts, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Indian Affairs at the United States Department Of The Interior. “The tribe expended its own funds to purchase the property with a vision that the restoration of tribal homelands would benefit the long-term health and welfare of the tribe. I am honored to inform you that we have agreed to accept this land into trust.”
Before opening the planned 423,000 sq ft Class III casino, The Times Of Northwest Indiana reported that the Pokagon Band Of Potawatomi Indians will be required to agree a compact with Indiana detailing its rights and responsibilities while moreover detailing its payments to the Midwestern state in lieu of taxes.