April 28, 2010 –
SHABBONA – Bolstering its union with the local community, the Prairie Band
Potawatomi Nation on Tuesday launched www.ShabehnayReservation.com detailing
the Nation’s centuries-long ties to the local community and detailing its plans to create
jobs and boost the local economy by developing its Reservation lands.
“From the Village of Shabbona to the labor unions to the business community, we have
earned broad support for our plans to develop our land near Shabbona,” said Steve Ortiz,
Chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribal Council. “The Nation is proud to
have such strong local community support – evidence of our willingness and
determination to work closely with community leaders, to hear their concerns and to
adapt our plans to maximize the benefits for the community.”
Ortiz said ShabehnayReservation.com is a natural extension of the Nation’s ongoing
partnerships with local government and business leaders and its growing collaboration
with the local community. For nearly two centuries, since the federal government
established the Reservation for Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band, the Prairie Band
Potawatomi Nation has kept ties with its Reservation lands and the local community.
“We have cherished our land near Shabbona since before the federal government
established our Reservation there in the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien,” Ortiz said. “We
will continue to be good friends and good neighbors with the people of Shabbona and
The Nation has worked closely with business and government leaders in DeKalb County.
In the previous two years, the Nation reached intergovernmental agreements with the
County of DeKalb, the Village of Shabbona, the County Sheriff and the local Fire
Department concerning support for local public services and matters of mutual interest.
“The Potawatomis, whose ties to their land here go back two centuries, have gone out of
their way to be good friends and neighbors to me and the other folks of Shabbona. They
have worked closely with us to explain their plans, to solicit community input and to
modify their plans to address community concerns,” said Shabbona Mayor Claudia
Hicks. “The Village Board formally supports the Nation’s plans and we recognize that
such a development will include a bingo hall.”
The Nation’s plans for the Shab-eh-nay Reservation enjoy support from both the local
business and labor communities. In particular, the Shabbona Business Association,
DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and the DeKalb County Building
Trades all support the Nation’s plans.
“The Potawatomis have gone out of their way to involve local labor in their plans for
development of their land. They reached out to organized labor and sought our input and
support,” said Matt Swanson, President of the DeKalb County Building Trades. “Most
importantly, they agreed to use union workers for the construction and development of
the facilities on their land. This project will not only benefit the local community through
construction jobs but will continue to do so with permanent jobs and benefits realized
through the intergovernmental agreement with the county.”
The Nation has said that the vast majority of jobs created by its development will be
filled by local residents.
“We often hear talk about federally taxpayer-funded stimulus packages designed to help
main street America, but small villages like Shabbona might never see a cent of this,”
said Vicki Bray, President of the Shabbona Business Association. “The Prairie Band is
offering us a stimulus package – one that the Village will actually see – that will not raise
taxes or cost taxpayers anything. We are very anxious to proceed.”
DeKalb County, like so many other largely rural economies, urgently needs more jobs to
get beyond the continuing national economic slump. Last year, the Alexander Lumber
Co., located in the center of Shabbona, announced its closure. Also last year, the Farmers
Factory Co., a farm implement manufacturer in nearby Lee, announced its closure –
leaving many residents in the southern part of DeKalb County without work.
“The need for more jobs is particularly acute in the southern part of DeKalb County,”
said Paul Borek, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Economic Development
Corporation. “The Prairie Band’s plan for a bingo hall and government center on its land
near Shabbona would create permanent jobs. Moreover, the Tribe has assured us that the
vast majority of those jobs will be filled by non-Indian locals.”