Huron Nottawaseppi Purchased Management Contract of Firekeepers Casino

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

As of Friday, FireKeepers Casino’s owners have taken over its day-to-day operations — more than four years sooner than planned.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi today announced that it had closed on the $97 million purchase of the casino’s management contract with Full House Resorts Inc.

The contract buyout is part of a $385 million refinancing package that will be used to pay outstanding bonds and loans for development and operation of the casino’s new hotel and events center, according to a statement from the tribe.


The refinancing deal was carried out with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, whose managing director, Jeff Carey, was credited in the statement with creating a refinancing model that “was very complementary and conducive for a Native American owned and operated gaming business.”

Huron Nottawaseppi Awaits Public Safety Cooperation Agreement with Emmett Township

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

Officials at Pine Creek Reservation, the Emmett Township Department of Public Safety and FireKeepers Casino are scrambling to get public safety agreements in place before the casino’s early August opening.

That’s because the agreements “have hit a last-minute snag,” township Supervisor Gene Adkins said at the board’s meeting Thursday.

The township board on Thursday postponed approval for the second time on a cross-deputization agreement between their public safety department and the Huron Potawatomi Police Department. In June, trustees wanted the township attorneys to review the language before voting on it.

The contract would deputize tribal police to act with authority on township property. Without the agreement, tribal police couldn’t leave the casino grounds, which are sovereign Indian land, in pursuit of criminals.

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Huron Nottawaseppi Property Tax Dispute

From the Battle Creek Inquirer:

ATHENS — Athens Township’s attorney said the township has no means to collect back taxes from the local Potawatomi.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi’s Pine Creek Reservation in Athens Township was federally entrusted in summer 2008, making it untaxable land. But that came after it was assessed for 2008, so the tribe was billed for those taxes.

The tribe didn’t pay, saying it didn’t owe as a federally recognized tribe. The unpaid 2008 taxes are part of a pending Michigan Tax Tribunal case: The Potawatomi also has asked that taxes it paid from 2004 to 2007 be returned.

At the township board meeting Tuesday, Assessor Marcia Bails read a letter from Jim Norlander, township counsel. It said even though the property was assessable for 2008, Pine Creek now is federal property and can’t be foreclosed upon.

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Huron Nottawaseppi Awaits Decision from Michigan Tax Tribunal on Tax Status of Pine Creek Reservation

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

Tribe awaits ruling on tax-exempt status

ATHENS TOWNSHIP — The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi is awaiting a Michigan Tax Tribunal decision on whether the tribe is liable for township taxes on its Pine Creek Reservation.

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Pine Creek Reservation, Huron Nottawaseppi Band News Article

From the South Bend Tribune:

Reservation revival moving forward

Battle Creek Enquirer

FULTON, Mich. — The Pine Creek Indian Reservation, home to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, is a different place than it was when Cheryl Morseau-Williams grew up there.

When Morseau-Williams, 63, left the reservation at age 17, the roads were dirt. The 10 Potawatomi families living there had no running water. Electricity had been installed just several years prior.

The reservation had little besides tradition and a church to keep tribe members there. Morseau-Williams, like many of her peers, moved to Battle Creek, Mich., for work and a home.

Today, new community and health centers invite tribe members to seek essential services, and an outbreak of new construction promises an infusion of new residents to the 120-acre reservation.

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Huron Nottawaseppi Declaration of Reservation

The Department of Interior took the Sackrider parcel into trust and declared it reservation land. Here’s the Federal Register notice.

The DC Circuit’s decision in CETAC v. Kempthorne cleared the way to this decision.  Here are those materials:

DC Circuit Opinion

Tribe’s Brief

Federal Brief

Michigan Amicus Brief

[CETAC’s briefs will be posted when I find them.]