A 10-year struggle by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians to bring a casino to some 147 acres near Grand Rapids, Michigan, has ended with the Department of Indian Affairs declaring the land a tribal reservation.
The tribe, commonly called the Gun Lake Tribe, has plans to build a $200 million casino on the reservation. The casino will be managed by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos.
“I am pleased to issue this proclamation, and to exercise the authority delegated to me by the secretary of Interior to the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottwatomi Indians,” said Assistant Interior Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk. “The land is for the exclusive use of Indians on the reservation who are entitled to reside at the reservation by enrollment or tribal membership. These properties will provide opportunities for economic development, self-determination and self-sufficiency.”
The signing of the proclamation and the taking of the land into trust on behalf of the tribe seems to signal that EchoHawk may be amenable to off-reservation casinos.
EchoHawk was Idaho attorney general when the state passed an amendment allowing a lottery but prohibiting other forms of gambling. Federal officials said the loose wording of the amendment would have allowed for tribal casinos. Rather than negotiate with the tribes, EchoHawk suggested a special legislative session to fix the language of the amendment.