Potawatomi open Indiana office in South Bend
Written by Hal Brown/Sentinel-Tribune   
Thursday, 06 June 2013 06:00

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi opened its first Indiana office Wednesday, reducing travel for members seeking tribal services and establishing an official presence in an area it has called home for hundreds of years.

The tribe opened the office on a 165-acre site the tribe owns on the far south side of South Bend, about 25 miles south of its headquarters in Dowagiac, Mich.

The office is intended to provide tribal members in northern Indiana better access to tribal services such as health care, education and housing assistance. The tribal government offers youth tutoring and mentoring programs, employment training and placement, elder services, including nutrition and outreach programs, and language and cultural programs, the South Bend Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/18PrZ8U ).

Tribal Council Chairman Matt Wesaw said the opening of the office is evidence of the tribe's mission to provide tribal members with a "hand-up."

"We have to break the cycle of dependency, and the only way we do that is by creating a foundation for people to make their lives better," Wesaw said.

At the opening ceremony, South Bend Common Council attorney Kathy Cekanski-Farrand read from an official proclamation commending and honoring the tribe and welcoming it to the city.

Tribe member Greg Ballew of Mishawaka said the tribe never left northern Indiana.

"We have been here at least 800 to 1,000 years," Ballew said. "So we've been here, and it's nice to be formally recognized."

It's also convenient having access to tribal services nearby, he said.

"It saves me about a 30-minute drive" to Dowagiac, Ballew said.

Wesaw said the tribe plans to develop housing on the South Bend the site for tribal members and possibly a casino. It already owns and operates the Four Winds Casino and Resort in nearby New Buffalo, Mich.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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