Our Next Adventure: FKCH and NHBP Open Second Hotel Tower with Equal Parts Ceremony and Theatrics

Before the ribbon-cutting Monday, Aug. 16, before the spectacular tightrope walk, before celebratory drinks, FireKeepers Casino Hotel CEO Kathy George addressed the audience to say Migwéch {thank you}.

“On behalf of the 1,800 FireKeepers Casino Hotel team members, we say thank you,” George said. “Thank you for being our partners, thank you for being our guests, and more importantly, just thank you for supporting us for the last 12 years; and coming today to be a part of our next adventure.”

Over the years, NHBP has set its sights on the next Seven Generations with intent, intelligence, hard work and determination. FKCH has been instrumental in propelling the Tribe forward, and after steady growth throughout NHBP and its partners, it was time to forge into a new adventure. Little did we all know that the next adventure would include a global pandemic.

But as NHBP Tribal Members already know, resilience is in our DNA.

“Our history and modern-day trials speak for themselves,” said NHBP Council Chairperson Jamie Stuck. “Whether you’re talking NHBP to be the last band of Potawatomi to be removed from Michigan to go to Kansas, or if you’re referring to the resistance of our Ancestors when they decided to turn around and come back home to the state of Michigan to re-establish ourselves in our aboriginal territory. How about the struggle that we had to become reaffirmed and federally recognized as a sovereign nation? And we all did it together. Unfortunately, you can add a global pandemic to the list [of things] we have overcome.”

Through challenges on all sides, NHBP, FKCH and their partners persevered to complete construction on the newest tower.

More than 85,000 yards of concrete, 2,000 tons of steel, 130 miles of metal stud framing, 140 miles of wire, and 50 miles of mechanical piping were used to construct the new structure.

And, most impressively, 470,000 trade hours.

In a moving speech, NHBP’s Indian Preference Project Coordinator Mariesha Keith spoke about her experience working with Tribal Members as they contributed to those hours, working on-site in various roles.

“I felt truly honored and proud just to get to this point, to hold this position working with our Tribal Members, which a lot of them are close family members to me,” Keith said. “Just being able to see their true potential and knowing I could help place them in the correct positions that would best fit their job skills, their strengths, knowing their weaknesses. They’ve overcome a lot….”

The second tower serves as a new home for the casino hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Nibi, eight floors, a new bar, VIP and high-limit gaming rooms, as well as spaces dedicated to NHBP history, art and culture.

The addition is intended to offer more accommodation for guests and entertainment, expand the casino hotel’s visibility and recognition in the gaming world, grow the community in the area, and, most importantly, allow NHBP to continue to expand and perfect its service to Tribal Members.

Following the sun-soaked speeches and ceremony, Tribal Members, FKCH employees, and curious spectators alike witnessed globally recognized tightrope walker and professional daredevil Nik Wallenda traverse a high-wire from the casino hotel’s original hotel to its newly constructed and polished tower. With nothing but a trusted team on the ground, his wits, a balancing staff, and a microphone, Wallenda made the trek from the established to the novel.

While crossing the high-wire, Wallenda took the time to share stories and valuable insight with the audience. He admired the property, joked with the audience, knelt on the wire for an extra thrill, and shared family history and personal stories.

“We’re faced with this wild pandemic. There are so many unknowns. There are so many people struggling right now, but I encourage you to remain positive.”

Nik Wallenda

The walk went off without a hitch as the perfect embodiment of NHBP and FKCH’s collective journey into the future: skilled, sure-footed, and supported from the ground up.


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