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Tribal Tribulations

Jamie Stuck, Vice Chairman, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi

Tribal Tribulations

Anyone who is truly passionate about their work, loves their job. And if you love your job, you really live your job. Jamie Stuck has been living his job his entire life.

“Our tribe has been struggling for decades, first to achieve federal recognition, and then to embark in the gaming industry, which provides us with self-sufficiency,” says Stuck, now the vice chairman of the tribal council for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. “I remember as a little boy, my grandfather having small meetings in his house with two or three people discussing these issues.”

Throughout high school and college, Stuck says he always thought at the back of his mind that he’d work for the tribe, but nothing in particular. It wasn’t until the then-chairwoman, the late Laura Spurr, urged him to run for tribal council that things began to come together.

“I knew I wanted to work for the betterment of my people,” he says, “but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But when Laura told me she had big plans for me and suggested I run for council, that made sense. I was lucky enough to win and be re-elected ever since.”

Stuck says he was a bit idealistic when he first started in tribal council.

“As you get older, you get a little more realistic,” he says. “Shortly after I joined the council, it wasn’t a very hopeful time for our tribe. We didn’t have a state compact, the management contract had not been approved by the council, the land hadn’t yet been put into trust, we didn’t have financing and we were locked in a Supreme Court battle with opposition groups. The future looked bleak. That shook my idealism, and I got down to work to help us get over all those challenges.”

The tribe’s FireKeepers casino was the result of the struggles, and it was an immediate success. Located in Battle Creek, it had the advantage of being located in a part of Michigan that was underserved by gaming. Stuck says he was lucky to be a part of the process at that time.

“I was involved in everything,” he says. “The Supreme Court case, the management agreement, the approval process from the National Indian Gaming Commission, negotiations for the state compact, and I even got to participate in the road show to line up the financing. And that wasn’t a slam-dunk. Remember, the downturn began to hit in 2008, exactly the time we were looking for financing. But we had the right product in the right place, so we got offers for almost $1 billion of financing when we were only seeking $340 million.”

Although things aren’t as complicated as they were in those days, Stuck says there’s still plenty to keep him busy as vice chairman of the council.

“I plan to continue to work for the tribe, as long as they’ll have me,” he says.

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