FIREKEEPERS CASINO HOTEL
After more than 10 years of planning, strategy, and vision, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi opened the doors to FireKeepers Casino in August of 2009. The property features a 111,700-square foot gaming floor with 2,900 slot machines, 70 table games, multiple restaurants and lounges, a live poker room and bingo room. This $300 million project created a unique gaming destination in the mid-west all while initially creating 1,500 jobs for the local community. FireKeepers Casino Hotel is located just off Interstate 94 at Exit 104 in Battle Creek, Michigan and is a favorite gaming destination for residents in central and southern Michigan, northern Indiana and western Ohio.
Less than two years later, on March 1, 2011, FireKeepers Casino broke ground on a major expansion. This initiative included an 8-story resort-style hotel and expanded Bingo room. During this construction phase, the tribe’s commitment to local spending resulted in awarding contracts that total more than $25 million to the State of Michigan.
FireKeepers hotel expansion opened its doors to the public on December 12, 2012. The expansion showcased a 243 room resort-style hotel complete with indoor pool, exercise facility, a full-service restaurant named Smoke ‘n Fire, and business center. The addition also features a functional multi-purpose event center that is capable of seating up to 2,000 guests as a concert venue. When not in use as a concert venue for superstar performers such as Tony Bennett, ZZ Top, and Tim Allen, the versatile space can accommodate banquets, corporate meetings, trade shows, and other events. This expansion brought 300 additional jobs to the Battle Creek area.
FireKeepers Casino Hotel, in just over two years of operation, has been named a Four Diamond Hotel by AAA, one of the hospitality industry’s premier honors. The 243 room hotel, featuring 26 suites, earns an achievement that ranks FireKeepers as a premier establishment esteemed by AAA’s professional inspectors. The Four Diamond recognition is given to just five percent of the more than 28,000 approved by AAA properties rated each year. FireKeepers received this award again in 2016.
In April 2016, FireKeepers casino renovated guest favorite Café 24/7 restaurant. The new design was developed by Kalamazoo architects, Seven Generations Architecture and Engineering and construction was directed by Moore Trosper Construction of Holt, Michigan. The refreshed atmosphere combines an old-school diner feel with new modern features such as contemporary lighting, stylish graphics, and even a chalkboard wall to write specials. The Café 24/7 menu will feature new, fresh items, as well as some of the classic favorites like the All American Burger, Hot Turkey Sandwich and Chicken Pot Pie.
Also in April 2016, FireKeepers announced another expansion to the property, which would introduce a convenience store and gas station located adjacent to the casino. The convenience store and gas station, named “FireKeepers Pit Stop”, features a car wash, a convenience store with various food and beverage items, as well as a place to fill up your gas tank while visiting FireKeepers. The FireKeepers Pit Stop opened November 1, 2016.
Local and State Revenue Sharing Board
February 2016 - The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Contribute a Record $21.8 Million to Benefit The State of Michigan and Local Communities Contribution By Owners of FireKeepers Casino Hotel Is Over Seven Percent Greater Than 2014. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), owners of FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Mich., announced that it has established a new annual record with $21.9 million in payments to the State of Michigan and the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB). The payment to the state of Michigan totals more than $16.6 million, an increase of 7.8 percent over the 2014 payment while the payment, to the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB) of over $5.3 million is 5.3 percent higher than one year ago. This brings the total monies the NHBP has contributed to the State of Michigan to $90 million and $32.2 million to the FLRSB, and creates a combined contribution which exceeds $122 million since FireKeepers Casino Hotel opened in August 2009.
The Fire Hub
Located in the historic Fire Station No. 4, on the corner Kendall Street and Dickman Road in Battle Creek. The Fire Hub restaurant is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu features upscale, yet affordable, items with a delicious selection of freshly made breads and muffins, breakfast items, soups, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, an array of pizzas and, of course, scrumptious desserts.
The Fire Hub’s most important goal is to give back to the community and this will be accomplished via multiple programs. First, The Kendall Street Pantry, located in the rear section of the building, will work in conjunction with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, distributing food from shelves to those less fortunate. Secondly, a large greenhouse on nearby tribal land will be utilized to grow food, with the goal of providing a free salad bar for downtown schools in Battle Creek. The third element is the creation of a fund to support local charities, with eighty percent of all restaurant profits providing the monies. The remaining twenty percent of profits will be reinvested in the property.
To learn more, visit http://www.firehubbc.com.
FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship
FireKeepers has hosted the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship, a Symetra Tour Road to the LPGA event, for the past three years. The tournament is held each summer at Battle Creek Country Club, located at 318 Country Club Dr., Battle Creek, Mich. Battle Creek Country Club, a private members-only course, designed by Willie Park, Jr., opened in 1919. The course features 6,744 yards of golf.
FireKeepers Casino Hotel donates all profits earned from the championship to S.A.F.E. Place women’s shelter. S.A.F.E. Place is committed to helping victims of domestic violence and their families in Barry, Eaton, and Calhoun Counties. Offering a range of social intervention and advocacy services; S.A.F.E. Place stresses early intervention, strengthening families, and providing a continuum of care through community resources and referrals. S.A.F.E. Place provides shelter, court advocacy, referrals and comprehensive counseling programs for women and children who have been physically, verbally, or emotionally abused.
FireKeepers Casino Hotel continues to build a strong community partnership with S.A.F.E Place. FireKeepers has contributed to S.A.F.E. Place by participating in various events, including the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and the “Celebrity Server” events. Many FireKeepers and NHBP team members provide countless hours of volunteer work for S.A.F.E. Place, chairing committees and serving on the Board of Directors. These include George Jenkot, Vice President of Security and Surveillance at FireKeepers Casino Hotel, who serves as President and Christine Lanning, Tribal Council Secretary for the NHBP, who serves as a board member. Over the past 5 years, FireKeepers team members have volunteered at countless S.A.F.E Place events. The total number of volunteers comes to over 150 team members with volunteer hours totaling over 1,000.
Donation Drives and Charitable Giving
Every year FireKeepers Casino Hotel participates in an array of local initiatives to benefit a variety of organizations within the community. These include blood, food, toy and coat drives. FireKeepers has participated in a food drive every year since opening in 2009. In 2009 alone, Team Members donated an entire pallet worth of non-perishable items to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Basket Food Drive and three pallets of bulk food to the Salvation Army’s Soup Kitchen. In 2015, FireKeepers collected over 1,000 pounds of food, with a 5 year total of over 5,000 pounds to be donated to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan. Since opening, more than 750 team members have donated to the various organizations.
In 2016, for the seventh consecutive year, FireKeepers contributed to area food banks prior to the start of the holiday season. Five local areas were selected to receive 200 turkeys each. These have included the Food Bank of South Central Michigan located in Battle Creek, Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank in Comstock Park, Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne, and Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint. Overall, a total of 5,000 turkeys have been donated to local food banks.
Since its opening in 2012, the Hotel has donated hundreds of hotel rooms to a variety of different organizations and local businesses in need. FireKeepers has also given a total of over $150,000 in monetary donations and gifts-in-kind to local organizations. These organizations include lions clubs, community foundations, PTAs, and animal rescues.
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
“Keepers of the Fire”
Tribe looks to become self-sufficient
The mission of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) is to provide leadership for Tribal Members and to serve as a model for other Native Americans in areas of self-government, self-reliance and self-empowerment. The Tribe’s goal is to provide its Tribal Members with the best in health care, educational opportunities, housing, healthy environment and economic opportunity as a sovereign Native American Nation. The proceeds from FireKeepers Casino Hotel help cover to cover those costs for NHBP and its Members.
There are over 1,400 Tribal Members and many live around southwest Michigan in the Tribe’s seven-county service area covering: Allegan, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent and Ottawa counties. NHBP’s Government Center is located at the Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Athens Township and the Tribe also maintains a satellite administrative office and health facility in Grand Rapids to better serve its Tribal Members.
Current Tribal Council
Chairperson: Jamie Stuck
Vice Chairperson: Dorie Rios
Secretary: Nancy Smit
Treasurer: : Jeff Chivis, Ph.D.
Sergeant-At-Arms: Homer A. Mandoka
The Potawatomi name is a derivation of Bodéwadmi. Bodwé means to put something into a fire. Wadmi refers to the people. Bodéwadmi means “The people who maintain a fire,” also known as Fire Keepers. This refers to the role the Potawatomi people have as the Keepers of the Council Fire, which was an earlier alliance with other Tribes in the area.
The Potawatomi Nation encompasses lands along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, across to Detroit and from the Huron and Grand Rivers southward into northern Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. A number of treaties restricted the territory of the Potawatomi Nation to the southwestern region of Michigan. In the Treaty of Chicago 1821, Potawatomi Tribal leaders were forced to sign the Treaty that essentially took away all but a small portion of lands in southern Michigan, Indiana and northern Illinois.
Tribal Members were later forced to cede the remainder of their “reserved lands,” contained within the “Notawasepe Reserve,” and were relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River. There was great resistance by Tribal Members to leaving their Michigan villages and hunting territories.
Pine Creek Reservation
Under the leadership of Chief John Moguago, a small number of NHBP Tribal Members avoided forced relocation or, soon after relocation, returned to their native state of Michigan. Tribal Members settled in various locations in Allegan and Bradley, Michigan, but the Tribe concentrated near Athens, Michigan. The Reservation was established by Chief Moguago on a 120-acre parcel of land along the Pine Creek near Athens, Michigan, purchased in 1845 with treaty annuity money. The Reservation has since been declared a historic site by the state and federal governments. The Pine Creek Indian Reservation still serves as the Tribe’s primary land base, providing housing, Community events and medical services for Membership.
Land into Trust
NHBP endured a 10 year journey to develop a casino by defeating numerous legal challenges from various groups and obtaining federal approvals. NHBP submitted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) encompassing some 600 pages of text and diagrams analyzing impacts from socio-economic to biological to physical factors with input from local public officials, which is a requirement of federal law. The EIS was accepted by the U.S. Department of Interior and satisfied challengers.
In December 2006, the federal government took official action to acquire the property in Emmett Township into trust for purposes of constructing and operating a casino, and declared it as part of the Tribe’s initial reservation.
Under Tribal Council’s leadership, the Tribe has accomplished successful nongaming initiatives. These include Elder Housing, Community Centers, Health Facilities, Tribal Court, Tribal Police and a small convenience store. NHBP has also started its own development board called the Waséyabek Development Company, LLC. WDC’s goal is to seek investment opportunities for the Tribe in the nongaming sector. For more information, please visit waseyabek.com.
Seven Grandfather Teachings
The Seven Grandfather teachings have always been a part of the Native American culture. Their roots date back to the beginning of time. These teachings impact our surroundings, along with providing guidance toward our actions to one another.
According to the story, long ago, a messenger was sent to see how the Neshnabék were living. The Neshnabék were living their life in a negative way which impacted their thoughts, decisions and actions. Some had hate for others, displayed disrespectful actions, were afraid, told lies and cheated. Others revealed pride while others were full of shame. During his journey, the messenger came across a child. This child was chosen to be taught by the Seven Grandfathers to live a good way of life. He was taught the lessons of Love, Respect, Bravery, Truth, Honesty, Humility and Wisdom.
Before departing from the Seven Grandfathers, they told him, “Each of these teachings must be used with the rest. You cannot have Wisdom without Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. You cannot be Honest if you are only using one of the other teachings. To leave out one teaching would be embracing the opposite of what the teaching means.” The Seven Grandfathers each instructed the child with a principle. It was then up to the child to forget them or to put them to use.
Each one of us represents the child. We must faithfully apply the teachings of our Seven Grandfathers to our own lives. We must place our trust in the Creator. We must also never forget to be sincere in our actions, character and words.
Love - Debanawen
Knowing love is to know peace. Our love must be unconditional. When people are weak, that is when they need love the most. Love is a strong affection for another. This can form between friends and family. Love is an attachment based upon devotion, admiration, tenderness and kindness for all things around you. For one to love and accept themself is to live at peace with the Creator and in harmony with all of creation. Love knows no bounds. We must accept it sincerely and give it freely.
Respect - Wdetanmowen
A way to honor creation is by showing respect. There should be no part of creation that should be excluded from the honor that we are to give. We demonstrate respect by realizing the value of all people or things and by showing courteous consideration and appreciation. We must give respect if we wish to be respected. We honor the traditional roles that we fill and the teachings we have been given. We honor our families and others, as well as ourselves. We are not to bring harm to anyone or anything. Respect is not just an action, but a heart-grown feeling.
Bravery - Wédaséwen
Facing a problem with integrity is a true demonstration of bravery. We do what is right even when the consequences may be unpleasant. We face life with the courage to use our personal strengths to face difficulties, stand tall through adversity and make positive choices. We must stand up for our convictions, and have courage in our thinking and speaking. All of these actions together will lead to ceaseless bravery.
Truth - Débwéwen
Truth is having the knowledge of our cultural teachings. It gives us the ability to act without regret. We must understand, speak and feel the truth while also honoring its power. Truth should not lead us to deceptions. We know who we are in our heart. By knowing that, we also know the truth. Our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual gifts will guide each one of us in our journey.
Honesty - Gwékwadsewen
Facing a situation is to be brave, but having the courage to not only do the right thing, but also saying it is honesty. We must allow truth to be our guide. We must first be honest with ourselves. This will allow us to be honest with others. We must give full value to both the efforts of our own and others. When we walk through life with integrity, it is then that we know honesty. Be truthful and trustworthy. We must also remember to accept and act on truths through straightforward and appropriate communication.
Humility - Édbeséndowen
Humility is to know that we are a part of creation. We must always consider ourselves equal to one another. We should never think of ourselves as being better or worse than anyone else. Humility comes in many forms such as compassion, calmness, meekness, gentleness and patience. We must reflect on how we want to present ourselves to those around us. We must be aware of the balance and equality with all of life, including humans, plants and animals.
Wisdom - Bwakawen
The mixture of these teachings, combined with the experiences of life is what we refer to as wisdom. It is given to us by the Creator to be used for good. Wisdom carries other meanings, which also includes intelligence or knowledge. When we cherish our knowledge or intelligence, we are also cherishing our wisdom. We must use sound judgment, along with the ability to separate inner qualities and relationships. We must use a good sense and course of action to form a positive attitude. We must remember to listen and use the wisdom that has been provided by our Elders, Tribal leadership and our spiritual leaders. We must also always remember that wisdom comes in all shapes, sizes, forms and ages.
NHBP, Other Michigan Tribes Receive Award from Michigan Historic Preservation Network
In May 2016, several Tribes in Michigan, including NHBP, were awarded the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s 2016 Government Institution Award.
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network presented the award to representatives of several Tribes during a reception on Friday, May 13, 2016, held at the Garden Theater in Detroit, for their part in the M-23/US-31 Holland to Grand Haven Archaeological Data Recoveries.
Among the recipients who traveled to receive this Government Institution Award was NHBP Cultural Historic Preservation Office Manager Beth Moody, who worked in collaboration with NHBP Environmental Director John Rodwan.
The Tribal co-awardees include the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The same Archaeological Data Recoveries award also included the Michigan Department of Transportation, Environmental Section, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the Commonwealth Heritage Group for their work on the project.
The award is one of several Government Institution Awards given during the ceremony. Other awards went to the City of Monroe for its River Raisin Heritage Corridor project and to the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.
Several Lifetime Achievement Awards also were given to distinguished Michigan historic preservationists.
For more information about the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi visit their website.