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Pokagon Band breaks ground on administration building

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POKAGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is breaking ground on a new 19,000-square-foot tribal administration building located at the tribal reservation in Pokagon Township.

The building will house the tribe’s administration and member services departments.

“Today’s program is called Oshkawaban, meaning ‘new morning’ seeing that the ground breaking for the tribal administration building is a great moment for the tribe,” said John Miller, tribal chair of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. “This building represents a new face for the tribe, and is a very deep source of pride for all of our tribal citizens.”

After four years of planning and applying for funding, construction began April 13 with completion expected by the end of the year. The project includes construction of the building, road and parking lot, and sewer and water improvements. The project cost is just over $5 million, with the building itself costing nearly $4.5 million.

The new building will allow the tribe to house 50 of its 120 staff in one building for the first time. The administration building coordinates housing, education, health and other services for the more than 4,000 members of the Pokagon Tribe. The staff currently operates out of more than a dozen modular offices and other buildings.

The project was funded by several loans and grants. The funds for the administration building were provided by a United States Development Authority Rural Development loan. The improvements to the roads and parking lot were funded through the BIA. The infrastructure was funded through an Indian Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


“This building belongs to the membership, employees, elders and leadership who work hard every day on behalf of the tribe’s future,” said Eric Trevan, tribal operations officer.

“The tribe has a very strong connection to the environment and is dedicated to preserving and improving it. As such, the tribal administration building will have little or no impact on the environment,” said Alan Fricke, director of housing and the tribe’s project manager.

Some of the green initiatives of the building include:

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• Rain gardens and native prairie restoration of the triangular space between the old and new road, as well as around the new building. The vegetation manages storm water, reduces maintenance and provides wildlife habitat;

• A high reflectivity roof with a high “R” rating that reduces winter heat loss and summer heat gains;

• A geothermal heating system to reduce energy costs and the consumption of fossil fuels;

• Sky lights, interior glazing, energy efficient T5 light fixtures, automated controls inside and LED lights outside reduce energy consumption and increase the comfort of space;

• Onsite wastewater treatment and groundwater recharge;

• Recycled materials for aggregate, ceiling tiles and insulation to reduce landfill waste and to use natural resources;

• Lumber from renewable resources located close to the site. This is done to preserve old growth timber and to reduce the use of fossil fuels for transportation;

• Low VOC (volatile organic compound) sealants and paints, plus green label carpet to improve indoor air quality;

• Operable windows and HVAC controls to maximize occupant comfort.

The project employs several regional contractors. Three Michigan contractors have been hired: Wightman and Associates from Benton Harbor to serve as the tribe’s engineer and architect; Peters Construction Company based in Kalamazoo as the contractor for the roads and parking lot; and Lounsbury Excavating out of Paw Paw to build the infrastructure. Two firms out of South Bend, Ind., are also on the project team: Majority Builders are the contractors and Joseph A. Dzierla and Associates, Inc., who serves as the contractors’ architect.