Pokagon Band elects tribal council members

DOWAGIAC — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi recently announced the election of its new tribal council members.

Brandon Rapp has been elected as a member-at-large, and John Morseau has been elected as the treasurer. Existing tribal council members Steve Winchester and Alex Wesaw were both re-elected to new terms as members-at-large. Member-at-large Andy Jackson and treasurer James R. Olds both completed three-year terms.

The Pokagon Tribal Council governs the sovereign government of the Pokagon Band and contains 11 members who are elected to staggered, three-year terms by Pokagon citizens. Any adult Pokagon citizen can run for tribal council. Within the tribal council, the executive officers include positions of chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer. Pokagon Tribal Council members also serve on the Pokagon Gaming Authority, which oversees the Pokagon Band’s Four Winds Casinos. 

“I would like to recognize the work of council members Andy Jackson and James Olds. During their time on council, they were able to provide many positive efforts to improve the quality of life of our citizens, and I would like to thank them for their work. I wish them the best in their next chapters,” said Matthew Wesaw, tribal council chairman for Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. “I would also like to welcome new incoming members John Morseau, treasurer, and Brandon Rapp, member-at-large. I am sure they fully recognize they are coming in at a very trying and interesting time. I look forward to their positive efforts to move us forward.”

Commenting on his election, Rapp thanked the community.

“A tribal leader should be focused on building a better community, not a better resume,” he said. “My advice to those aspiring to become future tribal council members: our time on tribal council is very short, so make the most of that time to leave behind a great legacy for future generations.”

Morseau said he was excited for his term.

“I am excited for the challenges and opportunities presented by serving the Pokagon Band as the tribal council treasurer,” he said. “The Pokagon community assisted with my education, and I am happy to use my training to serve the Pokagon Band for the next three years.”

Rapp has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ferris State University. The Pokagon Band gave him an opportunity to gain job training through its WIA program in 2003. He learned about tribal government operations and IT during this time and eventually gained employment as a full-time IT support technician with the Pokagon Band, and later with Four Winds Casinos. Outside the tribe, Rapp worked as a web publisher for the South Bend Tribune, where he helped manage their website and post new daily articles.

Rapp also has experience working with tribal youth. He was a K-12 tutor in the Pokagon Band education department, a computer class instructor with the Boys and Girls Club of Bay Mills and camp counselor for the Pokagon Band’s Culture Camp. He also has several years of experience serving the tribe including as salary commission chairperson, enrollment committee chairperson and Chi Ishobak Board of Directors vice chairperson.

John Morseau enjoyed serving individual Pokagon Citizens as an attorney during his previous employment. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Michigan State University and also graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

He has a strong connection to the Pokagon Band community. His biological parents are the late John Mark Morseau and Charlette Elaine Morseau. He was adopted early in life by his mother and father, Lucinda Graverette-Smith and Gregory Smith. He was raised in Dowagiac and currently resides in Hartford.

He has participated in Pokagon community events and the Pokagon Band’s Youth Council. Morseau has also been involved in the Pokagon Band’s pow wows and has served as a counselor for the Band’s Culture Camp.

Morseau has worked for the Band in many capacities. He worked as a college intern in various Pokagon government departments and as a clerk for the Pokagon Tribal Court. He also worked as a groundskeeper and was the first male beverage server for Four Winds Casinos.

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