The federal government has agreed to take land into trust in South Bend for Michiana’s Native American tribe.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians plans to use its newly restored homeland for a tribal housing and government complex, and a $400 million hotel and casino.
There were few details about the future of the casino at a ceremony in South Bend Tuesday. Instead, tribe members sang, danced and played drums to commemorate having their own land in Indiana for the first time in state history.
The Pokagon Band bought the 165-acre parcel years ago, but having it in federal trust will mean they can govern it as a sovereign state. Tribal councilman Roger Rader says that’s important today and for future generations.
“This is our home, and we’re going to try to stay here as long as we can,” he says. “We’ve always been here and this has been a part of us, just like folks here in South Bend, you know – this is your community as well.”
South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg was one partner in the tribe’s path to receiving the land who received a ceremonial blanket at Tuesday’s ceremony. Buttigieg says the Pokagon tribe is part of a national story that “has not always been one of the greatest honor for the United States.”
“A restoration like the one that we recognize today signifies that where there is interruption, there will be restoration; where there is separation, there will be return,” Buttigieg says. “And that is what is symbolized by this placing of land in trust.”
The tribe plans to start development on its land with new housing and a police station.
The planned Four Winds casino will come later – tribal officials did not say when.
WVPE’s Jon Huber contributed reporting for this story.