(L-R) U.S. Representative Dale Kildee, NHBP Tribal Council Member Irene Wesley, NHBP Tribal Council Chair Shirley English and Ada Deere, Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the official signing of NHBP’s Federal Recognition Ceremony on Dec. 19, 1995 in Washington D.C. – Photo Courtesy of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi.
Published December 19, 2015
PINE CREEK INDIAN RESERVATION — The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Council and Members are pleased to announce the 20 year anniversary of being federally recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“While an event of this magnitude means many things to each of us, one thing is for certain – we are living in an era that makes our grandfathers smile,” Tribal Council Chairman Homer A. Mandoka said. “This Tribal Nation strived to adopt a constitution in 1978, strived for federal recognition in 1995, strived for land in trust in 2006. We also strived to open FireKeepers Casino in 2009 and strived to eliminate debt in 2015.”
Tribal Members will celebrate the 20th anniversary of being federally-recognized with a day-long private reception on Saturday at FireKeepers Casino Hotel.
Federal recognition reaffirms the federal rights that are reserved in the treaties established as far back as the 1800s, and ensures Tribal self-sufficiency, economic development, health care, education, housing and the commitment to the rebuilding of the physical community for future generations.
Being federally-recognized by the government didn’t come easily. Years of providing historical documentation and anecdotal information to the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs played a role in long delay of the recognition, Tribal elders recall.
Then, the moment came.
In 1995, Tribal Members traveled from Michigan to Washington D.C., to take part in the historic signing of the federal recognition of the Tribe. Tribal Council Secretary Dorie Rios, who was 21 at the time, remembers that day – December 19, 1995.
“My Uncle, Amos Day, Jr., was on the Tribal Council at the time, and I’d never seen him be emotional,” Rios recently recalled. “He’d always been so stoic, which I admired about him. He broke down, and that’s literally when it kicked in for me what it meant to become federally-recognized. The struggles that he and the rest of my family went through on The Reservation, what they did not have, what they endured to get to that point on that day – that’s when I got it – what federally-recognized meant for our nation.”
Today, because of the endurance of the Tribal Members and Ancestors, the Tribe is becoming self-sufficient and has committed to continually fund a “Seven Generations” account to provide for the future needs of its Members. The Tribe owns FireKeepers Casino Hotel as well as Skasgé Power LLC, and its Members hope to continue creating economic development opportunities for generations to come.