An artist's rendering of an expansion at the Four Winds Casino, owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in South Bend, Indiana. Image: HBG Design

Pokagon Band shares another $860,000 in gaming revenues in Indiana

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians shared another $860,000 in gaming revenues with South Bend, Indiana, continuing a unique arrangement that began under the city's former mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is now a leading Democratic candidate for president.

Every year, tribe shares 1 percent of Class II gaming revenues from the Four Winds South Bend with the city. Another 1 percent goes to the South Bend Redevelopment Commission to contribute to the improvement of educational opportunities and to address poverty and unemployment in the community.

“The Pokagon Band is very fortunate and proud to be able to make these annual contributions to the City of South Bend, the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, YWCA of North Central Indiana, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Jobs for America’s Graduates Indiana, the Bowman Creek Project, Beacon Children’s Hospital, South Bend Community School Corporation, and South Bend Venues, Parks & Arts for the renovation of Howard Park,” Chairman Matthew Wesaw said in a news release on Wednesday. “These important organizations play a vital role in serving the community and we look forward to seeing what programs and initiatives they have planned for 2020.”

“The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi have been a generous partner in our community, and we are grateful for their contributions to improve our city’s parks, open spaces, and neighborhoods,” said Mayor James Mueller. “We look forward to continuing this great partnership into the future.”

The arrangement is unique in that revenue sharing typically occurs within the context of Class III gaming, such as slot machines and card games. Four Winds, on the other hand, only offers Class II gaming, a category that includes bingo and electronic forms of bingo.

But the tribe readily negotiated government-to-government agreements with the city in order to contribute to the community. Buttigieg, who served as mayor between January 2012 and 2020, signed the agreements and supported the tribe's historic land-into-trust application in South Bend. He was a frequent presence at events with the tribe, including the contribution of more than $2.7 million after Four Winds had been in operation for its first year.

Buttigieg "worked directly with one of our fellow Anishnaabe Tribes – the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians – to build a positive government-to-government relationship in his own community in South Bend," Bryan Newland, the president of the Bay Mills Indian Community, wrote in an endorsement published on Indianz.Com.

The tribe has since entered into negotiations for a Class III gaming compact with the state of Indiana. Up until last year, state politicians -- primarily Republicans in areas were non-Indian commercial facilities have made inroads -- were reluctant to even come to the table.

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