Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 7, 2002 - Issue 69


pictograph divider


Showing Their Colors

by Lou Mumford South Bend Tribune
credits: Photo by Paul Rakestraw
Potawatomi FlagSOUTH BEND, IN -- Eight years ago, the Dowagiac-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, after a long legal battle, was formally recognized by the federal government as an American Indian tribe.

Now, the band has its own flag, symbolizing its status as a sovereign nation.

"This is our national flag,'' said Tribal Chairman John Miller Friday as he proudly held up a corner of the colorful flag.

Also displaying the flag at the news conference at St. Patrick's County Park were tribal members Bill Morsaw and Mike Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, former acting chairman and current tribal council member and tribal operations officer, said Morsaw is one of more than 100 tribal members who are finally being recognized by the band for their military service. On Friday, Morsaw became the first tribal member to receive its national flag.

Morsaw lives in Kalamazoo and is a veteran of the Korean conflict.

The tribe is the same one that is planning the Four Winds Casino on a 675-acre site at Interstate 94 and Michigan 239 in New Buffalo Township. Asked about the status of the project, Miller said a federal judge still has the casino's fate in his hands.

In May, Judge James Robertson, in his courtroom in Washington, D.C., threw out all but one of a series of complaints filed by New Buffalo-based Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos, or TOMAC. The lone issue still pending deals with the extent of an environmental impact study and whether another such study is needed.

Miller said attorneys for TOMAC and the U.S. Department of the Interior have continued to submit briefs to the judge, but Robertson has set next Friday as the deadline for replies. Miller said a decision is expected after Friday but he couldn't estimate how long it might take.

A favorable ruling for the tribe would permit the band to take the land into trust and begin construction on the $160 million casino resort. Work on the first phase is expected to take a year, meaning the casino wouldn't open until the latter part of 2003 at the earliest.

A decision in favor of TOMAC would set the project back even further.

But the casino wasn't what Miller and Zimmerman wanted to talk about Friday. Instead, they talked about the band's "keepers of the fire'' tradition that's featured in one section of the flag.

Regarding the band's military veterans like Morsaw, Zimmerman said he's working to help them obtain medical benefits and, in some cases, long-overdue service medals.

"We're starting to lose some (veterans). We want to make sure they're recognized,'' Zimmerman said.

The flag will be displayed at the band's tribal offices on Sink Road near Dowagiac and at such functions as this weekend's Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa Powwow at St. Patrick's Park. The powwow features a variety of American Indian dancers. Its name translates to "We stop picking huckleberries'' and celebrates the end of the harvest.

South Bend, IN Map
Maps by Travel

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!