HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 21Issue 8Department of Interior Releases Report on Pokagon Indiana Development, Tribe Announces Appointment of New Chief Operating Officer

On Thursday, March 12, 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) published its notice of draft environmental impact statement on the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (“Tribe”) proposed land and casino development project in South Bend, Indiana. The notice “advises the public that the [BIA], in cooperation with the [Tribe], intends to file a draft environmental impact statement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” In addition, on March 20, 2015, the Tribe announced that it had hired Frank Freedman as the Chief Operating Officer of its Four Winds casinos.

BIA Environmental Impact Statement

The Tribe initially filed a Notice of Intent to prepare the impact statement on August 24, 2012, followed by public hearings and comment periods. The environmental report is a part of the Tribe’s efforts to receive the appropriate federal approvals needed to construct tribal housing, government, and casino facilities on land owned by the Tribe. Specifically, the Tribe is seeking to place 18 parcels of land totaling over 165 acres into trust with the BIA in order to improve access to governmental services, provide land for housing projects, to increase economic development opportunities, and to begin development of a Class III casino with hotel, restaurants, and other amenities. The Tribe currently holds the land in fee, and placing the land into trust with the BIA is a necessary step in allowing the land to be eligible for certain tribal gaming activity under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Tribe, however, must also negotiate a compact with the Indiana Governor’s Office and complete other administrative requirements in addition to the land-into-trust process.

The BIA has chosen Atkins, an independent consulting firm, to prepare the environmental impact statement. Public comments will be accepted by the BIA regarding the proposed transfer for a period of 45 days after the Environmental Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. In addition, a public meeting has been scheduled for 6:00pm, April 14, 2015, at the South Bend Century Center to receive comments related to information that needs to be clarified or included in the draft environmental impact report.

The Tribe has approximately 5,000 members, as well as over 2,800 acres of land in Michigan held in trust by the BIA for the benefit of the Tribe. The Tribe also owns the Four Winds casino brand, which includes three successful casino properties located in southwest Michigan. To review reports and documents related to the Tribe’s request, please visit the project’s website at: http://pokagonsouthbendeis.com/.

Frank Freedman hired as COO of Four Winds

On March 20, 2015, the Tribe announced that it had hired Frank Freedman as COO of its Four Winds Casinos. Mr. Freedman was formerly the General Manager of Four Winds Hartford, Four Winds Dowagiac, and the Assistant General Manager of Four Winds New Buffalo, positions held since May 2013.

Mr. Freedman will replace Matt Harkness, who is leaving Four Winds to pursue other interests. John P. Warren, Chairman of the Tribe, stated that “we sincerely thank Matt for his hard work, dedication and leadership over the past eight years, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors….We are also very pleased to appoint Frank Freedman as COO of Four Winds Casinos. Frank has worked closely with Matt Harkness for 20 years, including the last eight at Four Winds, and we have the utmost confidence in his abilities to lead the organization to continued success.”

The Tribe has three Four Winds brand casinos, located in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac. For more information on the Tribe and its casino properties, please visit: www.fourwindscasino.com

 

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