Pokagon Band to host annual meeting

Published 9:38 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Every year, among many other gatherings, events and activities, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians convenes to hear about and celebrate the news and accomplishments of the previous year.

On Saturday, March 23, members of the Pokagon Band will meet at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College to hear from tribal leadership, ask questions about projects and events within the tribe and hear a recap about 2018.

“It’s a wrap up of 2018. The Citizens can come hear from departments reconnect with the government,” said Kyla Carneiro, the digital strategist for the Pokagon communications staff.

Along with the opportunity to mingle, catch up and socialize in celebration of another year, the annual meetings of the Pokagon Band are a crucial component of communication within the tribe, according to Carneiro. The meetings are much like a State of the Union address, though it is much less about listening to a long speech as it is about a community hearing from many officials and leaders.

“It’s an important part of government transparency. It’s a time when citizens can share some feedback, stay involved in government and the departments can meet with citizens, and people can find out about other programs and services to get involved in,” she said.

The primary governance within the tribe comes from the tribal council, which is a board of 11 elected officials. The council makes budgetary decisions and other tribal visioning decisions, which are then implemented by various departments. The annual meeting is the yearly opportunity for the citizens to see the budget in print and provide feedback on some of the decisions that have manifested in projects within the community.

“They’ll be able to see the budget and how money was spent. There are usually questions that staff can understand,” Carneiro said.

On Saturday, Carneiro expects updates and inquiries about the progress of various development projects. In 2018, a South Bend Four Winds Casino location opened, and construction began on a new health center and justice center in Dowagiac. These projects and others are significant developments in the life of the Pokagon community, according to Carneiro. As assets of the Pokagon Band expand, so too do employment and participatory opportunities for citizens.

The annual meeting will involve a lunch, a time of prayer and other ritual celebration, according to Carnerio. Opportunities for children, applications for natural resource licenses and permits and social services will also be available for citizens who attend. The meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is specifically for citizens of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi.

For more information, readers can visit pokagonband-nsn.gov, or the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Facebook page.