A casino for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indian tribe is closer to fruition after the Bureau of Indian Affairs has released a final environmental impact statement for a proposed venue in South Bend. The statement calls for the 165 acres of land in a trust to be acquired by the tribe. According to the document, the Pokagon Band is the only Indian tribe that is federally recognized within the state of Indiana and for ten years has been trying to establish reservation homelands in the area.
So far, the tribe has been able to establish a homeland in the state of Michigan but yet to do the same in Indiana. The tribe was able to do so based on the Pokagon Restoration Act from 1994 which defined a service area for the Band in both states including ten counties.
The environmental impact statement shows that there is no significant impact, besides traffic to the proposed village and casino. The report does anticipate that congestion will take place along Prairie Avenue from Ewing Avenue to the St. Joseph Valley Parkway as well as the entrance to the parkway and any exit ramps.
Improvements are planned for the areas where congestion is anticipated including adding new lanes and lights to offset any traffic issues. According to the report, the tribe would be able to benefit as well with revenue support generated from services including health care and housing. Employment would also be impacted, with an increase in jobs available.
The report was established in relation to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians request to create a $400 million tribal village along with a casino on the land located in South Bend. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must review this request and the land would be taken into a trust for the tribe if approved.
The project would offer 44 units of housing, health services, government offices, hotel and casino along with meeting space and a parking deck. The project would create as many as 1,400 temporary employment positions and 2,000 permanent ones. Residents in the area have been opposed to the project proposal but the city has decided to support the plans in exchange for a share of casino revenues plus a community investment of $5 million.