SOURCE: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

April 17, 2015 16:44 ET

NCAI and NIGA React to Conduct of Indiana Legislature

Letters Sent to Representative Dermody and Senator Arnold Express Concern Over Their Comments About Native Americans and the Pokagon Band

SOUTH BEND, IN--(Marketwired - Apr 17, 2015) - The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced today that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) have sent letters to Indiana State Representative Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) and Indiana State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte). The letters express concern regarding recent activities in the Indiana Legislature about proposed Indian gaming and derogatory references made to the media about Native Americans and the Pokagon Band.

In an article from the Times of Northwest Indiana on October 30, 2014, Senator Arnold said, "I don't want to say, 'The Indians are coming, the Indians are coming.' But they're coming. We have to be prepared." On March 26, 2015, State Representative Tom Dermody said in the Times of Northwest Indiana, "[w]e need to do whatever we can, and we know we're limited, in making it not so easy for the Pokagon Band to develop a casino in South Bend."

In his letters to Representative Dermody and Senator Arnold, Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman, NIGA said, "There is no place in today's society for tired stereotypes from a sad and tragic era. As an elected official, I would hope that you would refrain from these types of divisive attacks in the future. With regard to efforts by the Pokagon Band to conduct gaming in South Bend, I urge you to understand that gaming conducted on Indian lands is governed solely by tribal and federal laws, most prominently the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Indian tribes have a direct relationship with the United States, recognized in the U.S. Constitution, through hundreds of treaties, federal laws, and court decisions dating back to the founding of the United States."

Jacqueline Johnson Pata, Executive Director for the NCAI also said in her letters, "At NCAI we are always concerned that persistent stereotypes lead to harmful statements, but we see this as an opportunity for education and growth that could lead to better understanding and partnership between the Tribe, yourself and your fellow legislators."

John P. Warren, Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians said, "We thank NCAI and NIGA for their support in addressing these concerns with Representative Dermody and Senator Arnold. The Pokagon Band has called Indiana home for hundreds of years and well before the date that Indiana achieved statehood. The Pokagon Band deserves more respect from the Indiana legislature. Additionally, proposed language in Article 29 of House Bill 1540, particularly Section 4 of Chapter 3, will inappropriately interfere with the Governor's ability to negotiate in good faith with the Pokagon Band for a gaming compact that meets the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Indiana legislature should remove Section 4 of Chapter 3 from House Bill 1540 or, failing that, Governor Pence should veto the bill."

About The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians' sovereignty was reaffirmed under legislation signed into law by President Clinton in September of 1994. The Pokagon Band is dedicated to providing community development initiatives such as housing, education, family services, medical care and cultural preservation for its approximately 5,000 citizens. The Pokagon Band's ten county service area includes four counties in Southwestern Michigan and six in Northern Indiana. Its main administrative offices are located in Dowagiac, Mich., with a satellite office in South Bend, Ind. In 2007, it opened Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Mich., followed by Four Winds Hartford® in 2011 and Four Winds Dowagiac® in 2013. More information is available at www.pokagonband-nsn.gov.

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