Pokagon community could find new home in South Bend

The Pokagon band of the Potawatomi tribe in Dowagiac wants to expand it's existing community into South Bend.

After a proposal including a casino was presented back in August, many began wondering why the Indiana addition.

Pokagon band members say they chose South Bend as a potential future home because many of their members already live in the community. Tribal leaders say the commute to use existing Michigan services, like health care and education, is too far. And the community in Dowagiac may be too rural for those used to a city atmosphere.

"Our tribal transporters have probably put over 60,000 miles on their cars just transporting people, so locating our services and duplicating what we have here in Michigan is real important because it makes the tribe more efficient, it betters the lives of individuals that it impacts. And a lot of all that impact, the positive impact, the jobs, the care, the level of services that we bring to the community, it spills over into the vendors and supplies and other economic areas, says John Warren, the tribal treasurer of the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi Tribe.

Those same leaders say the Dowagiac community has been successful. So successful, in fact, they're in the process of a $6.5 million dollar expansion, to include over 30 new homes in the neighborhood.

If the South Bend proposal goes through, the Pokagon group says the community will look very similar to the existing Dowagiac neighborhood. That area includes some 40 homes and an energy-efficient community center.

The South Bend property would be located adjacent to the intersection of Locust and Prairie.

But, the process isn't going to be complete any time soon. An Environmental Impact Statement (one of the first steps in the process) wont' be complete until the spring. And it will be 4 to 6 years before a final decision is made whether or not to break ground in South Bend.

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