Gun Lake Tribe announces retirement of longtime chair D.K. Sprague

D.K. Sprague. Photo from Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce / Facebook

Chairman D.K. Sprague has retired after 24 years of leading the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe.

Sprague, a veteran of the Vietnam War, first took office as 1992. He led his people through a number of major milestones, including federal recognition and the establishment of the tribe's land base.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve my community as chairman for the last twenty-four years,” Sprague said in a press release. “I thank my family and the tribe for supporting me, and God for allowing me to serve at a time when our dreams came to reality. I give recognition to our tribal leaders who came before me, as I merely finished what they started when the Bradley Indian Mission was established in the 1830s.”

The tribe will hold a special election to fill the vacant post. Vice Chairman Ed Pigeon will serve as acting chairman in the interim.

"I am proud to have served the tribe under the leadership of D.K. Sprague,” Pigeon said. “I witnessed steady and consistent leadership in extremely difficult situations over a long period of time. It was amazing to see him put to the test so many times, but never waver. The tribe is truly blessed that a person with such rare leadership qualities was in place at a time when it was most needed.”

After securing federal recognition in 1999, the tribe spend the next decade completing the land-into-trust process for its 147-acre reservation. A challenge went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the Salazar v. Patchak decision that said just about anyone can challenge a land acquisition even after it has long been finalized.

To address the uncertainty, Congress enacted S.1603, the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act, last year.

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