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Shab-eh-ney Reservation

aerial view

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Reservation

Historical Background


                     Article III of the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien reserved 1,280 acres of lands for Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band.  These lands were historically occupied by the Band in the State of Illinois.


                     Between 1835 and 1837, following the 1833 Treaty of Chicago cessions and prevailing Federal policy of removing Indian tribes from their traditional homelands and relocating them to areas west of the Mississippi River, Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band voluntarily joined six other Illinois Potawatomi Bands, who subsequently merged into one government referred to by several names, one of which was the “United Bands.”  The 1833 Treaty did not cede the Shab-eh-nay Reservation to the United States or grant fee simple title to the Reservation to the Chief. 


                     By the Treaty of 1846, the Bands ceded their lands in Iowa and were once again removed – this time to a reservation in Kansas. In this treaty the United States officially referred to the United Bands as the Potawatomi of the Prairie, and specifically affirmed that the reservation made for Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band by the 1829 Treaty was unaffected.


                     No later treaty or act of Congress affected the status of the Shab-eh-nay Reservation in Illinois.


                     Until his death in 1859, Chief Shab-eh-nay and Band members continued to return to their treaty reserved  reservation homeland  in Illinois.


                     The Band engaged in efforts to reacquire the land after Chief Shab-eh-nay and the Band were wrongfully dispossessed of it in 1849.


Contemporary Circumstances


                     In 2006, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (Nation) reacquired 128 acres of its original, historic 1,280-acre Shab-eh-nay Reservation.


                     Based on an extensive administrative record, the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a Solicitor’s Opinion in 2001 concluding that: (1) the Nation’s 1829 Treaty lands are still reservation lands and that the Nation’s reservation still exists; (2) the Nation is the legal successor-in-interest to the Shab-eh-nay Band with a credible claim to the reservation lands; and (3) the United States continues to bear a trust responsibility to the Prairie Band for these lands.


                     In 2006, the Interior Department confirmed the 2001 Solicitor’s Opinion that the Nation has a credible claim based on the unextinguished title the Nation holds as successor-in-interest to the Shab-eh-nay lands. 


                     The National Indian Gaming Commission, at the request of the County, is currently working on an opinion to determine whether the Shab-eh-nay Reservation lands are “Indian lands” within the meaning of the definition in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.   An Indian lands opinion is not required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  The Tribe submitted volumes of legal and historic materials in support of the status of the land as a reservation, something the Department of the Interior had already determined in 2001.


                     Since the reacquisition of the 128 acres, the Nation has engaged in discussions with the surrounding local governments and community members about its plans for a tribal government center and a modest bingo hall on the 128 acres. The Nation has entered into several agreements with these local governments to assure that the presence of the government center and hall will not impose a burden on their resources or infrastructure. 


                     On February 20, 2008, the DeKalb County Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between the Nation and DeKalb County by a vote of 16 to 7.  The Agreement is comprehensive in scope, addressing a variety of issues of mutual concern, including payments in lieu of taxes, the Nation's planned use of its lands, impacts on County infrastructure, and jurisdictional matters.  It also provides for a share of the revenue to the County from the Nation's bingo hall.


                     On March 5, 2009, the Nation and the DeKalb County Sheriff entered an agreement pursuant to which the Nation will contract the Sheriff to provide police protection for the Nation within its lands.


                     On September 2, 2008, the Nation and the Village of Shabbona entered into a Water and Wastewater Services Agreement. The Nation and Village had previously entered a Water and Sewer Pre-Design and Design Agreement on June 22, 2007, to determine whether connecting to the Village's water and sewer infrastructure for water and sewer services was a viable option for the Nation's lands.


                     On May 8, 2007, the Nation and the Shabbona Community Fire Protection District entered an agreement to ensure adequate fire response and EMS rescue for the Shab-eh-nay Reservation lands.


                     The Nation also seeks to work with the Township of Shabbona on traffic flow and road maintenance matters.