In Michigan, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Of The Potawatomi has announced the federal approval of an amendment to its gaming compact with the state that will see it set aside up to $500,000 a year for the purposes of supporting a fund designed to promote understanding of the region’s Native American groups.

The federally-recognized tribe operates the FireKeepers Casino Hotel near the city of Battle Creek and inked the deal with Michigan governor Rick Snyder in August before having it approved by the United States Department Of The Interior’s Office Of Indian Gaming Management on December 12.

Under the terms of the deal, the cash is to be used to support the newly-created Michigan Native American Heritage Fund, which will award money to local governments, colleges, universities and public and private schools to defray the costs of projects that promote consideration and positive relationships with the Midwestern state’s Native Americans. The Calhoun County-based tribe explained that these initiatives could include covering the expenses associated with replacing or revising mascots or imagery that might be considered offensive to aboriginal groups with more culturally appropriate representations.

“This fund demonstrates our commitment to providing Michigan schools, colleges and universities with the funds needed to improve curricula and resources related to Native American issues and mascot revisions,” said Jamie Stuck, Tribal Chair for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Of The Potawatomi, which inked its first gaming compact with the state in 1998 before revising this deal eleven year’s later. “We understand that schools often don’t have funds available for these types of projects and we are dedicated to removing that obstacle.”

The new deal calls for the Michigan Native American Heritage Fund to be managed by a board consisting of two people appointed by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Of The Potawatomi along with the Director of the Michigan Department Of Civil Rights or a designee and a further pair selected by the governor.

“I greatly appreciate the productive government-to-government relationship that the state of Michigan enjoys with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Of The Potawatomi,” said Snyder. “I’m proud that this second amendment to the tribal-state gaming compact will provide opportunities for additional partnerships between the tribe, state and schools to promote the rich history and contributions of the first Michiganders and our mutual citizens.”

The new amended compact moreover allows the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board to award cash to local governments in order to cover eligible infrastructure costs in advance and enter into multi-year funding commitments with qualified area bodies.

“This change will permit local governments to receive commitments to cover costs associated with road, sewer or other infrastructure improvements that are needed due to increased demands associated with FireKeepers Casino Hotel’s operations,” read a statement from the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Of The Potawatomi. “It will also provide local governments with budget relief by allocating funds that can be included in future fiscal year budgets where costs related to FireKeepers Casino Hotel are known in advance.”