Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Receives Chairman’s Leadership Award from the National Indian Gaming Association

Oct 23, 2020 | Media

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) and FireKeepers Casino Hotel (FKCH) was honored by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) with its prestigious Chairman’s Leadership Award on Oct. 21.

Tribal leaders welcomed NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens and staff for a visit that included a tour of the award-winning casino and hotel, as well as visits to the tribe’s Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Fulton, and The Fire Hub restaurant and Kendall Street Pantry in Battle Creek. 

During his visit, Chairman Stevens noted the tribe’s work feeding local residents in need as he toured The Fire Hub restaurant, a venture that gives 80% of its profits to local charities, and the adjacent Kendall Street Food Pantry, which shares a building with the restaurant and partners with the South Michigan Food Bank. Both are supervised by FKCH Vice President of Food and Beverage Mike McFarlen.

“I will always remember what you’ve done with this old fire station,” Stevens said. “On the right, we go to one of the neatest restaurants I’ve ever been in, and on the left we go to a place where people can get the help they need. These are the things that make the world turn for us, and mean a great deal to me personally,” adding that he and his family often faced hunger when he was growing up.

At a small dinner for the NIGA visitors, NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson Jamie Stuck shared his pride at the rare acknowledgement of an entire tribe with the Chairman’s Leadership Award.

“To be recognized as a tribe speaks volumes about us for being a nation that does things for good reasons, focusing on community outreach, not just what we can do economically,” Stuck said. “I appreciate that it focuses on the wellness and success of the tribe as a whole, instead of an individual, and it shows how keeping true to our community’s mission and vision has put us in a good position in these unprecedented times.”

Stevens’ also gave the award to showcase the FireKeepers Casino Hotel being recently named by Forbes as being among the top ten best employers in Michigan. He noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos comprised the 11th-largest employer in the U.S.

“We are proud of this recognition of our work as an employer of choice,” FKCH CEO Kathy George said. “To have both NIGA and Forbes identify us as a premier employer is a clear indication of how we treat our team members and a validation of their dedication to providing every patron with a rewarding experience at FireKeepers.”

The NIGA award was also given to highlight the tribe’s work with the Native American Heritage Fund, which supports positive Native relationships and imagery – including mascot updates – with local communities throughout Michigan.

“This is foundational work you are doing to help educate America,” Stevens said. “I appreciate what you have done to educate the world around you to better understand and appreciate our culture and traditions.”

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Indian Gaming Association seeks to protect and preserve tribal sovereignty and support economic self-sufficiency through gaming and other forms of economic development as an educational, legislative, and public policy resource.

About The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
NHBP, a federally recognized Tribal government with more than 1,500 enrolled Tribal Members, gained federal recognition December 19, 1995. The Tribe’s main offices are located at the Pine Creek Indian Reservation near Athens, Michigan, and in Grand Rapids, Michigan. NHBP provides benefits, programs and services to Tribal Members through various Tribal government departments, as well as a Tribal Police Department, Tribal Court and Gaming Commission.
NHBP’s economic development entities include FireKeepers Casino Hotel (FKCH), a Vegas-style casino, and Waséyabek Development Company, LLC (WDC), which focuses on the pursuit of non-gaming, economic diversification opportunities.
Under the Tribal-State Gaming Compact, NHBP distributes a percentage of its annual slot machine revenue from FKCH to both the State of Michigan and to the Local Revenue Sharing Board (LRSB). The Native American Heritage Fund, established in 2016, serves to provide resources to improve curricula and educational resources related to Michigan Indian history, as well as to fund initiatives that promote mutual respect and cooperation between local communities and Michigan’s federally recognized Tribes.


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