Shabehnay Project Slowly Progressing

Shabehnay Project Slowly Progressing
The Bureau of Indian Affairs held a scoping meeting on January 26, 2016 regarding the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s proposed trust acquisition and gaming facility project. The public forum or “scoping meeting” was an opportunity for the BIA to gather information from interested parties in order to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It is a first step in a long study where the process can take 12 to 18 months before a final determination is made.
“Our decision to submit an on-reservation trust application is a continuation of our efforts…to endeavor to be transparent and a good neighbor. The trust process allows for community input. We are interested to hear the thoughts on what environmental issues should be analyzed in our project’s EIS,” stated Tribal Council Vice-Chair, Joyce Guerrero. Issues to be addressed by the EIS include but are not limited to air quality, water, public health and safety, noise, and cumulative, indirect and growth-inducing effects.
The proposal includes placing 128 acres of land owned by the Nation on the Shab-eh-nay Reservation into trust and building a facility that would include a modest bingo hall with 800 class II machines, restaurants, lounge and a multi-purpose room. The land is located in present day DeKalb County near the Village of Shabbona. The property abuts state and county nature preserves. Thomas Wabnum, Tribal Council member asserted, “One of the purposes of our trust application is to right the historic wrong of the illegal sale of our Reservation in 1849.”
Tuesday night approximately 120 people filled the auditorium at Kishwaukee College Conference Center in Malta, Illinois to present and hear statements on the proposal.  In attendance were Tribal government officials Joyce Guerrero, PBPN Vice-chair, Camilla Chouteau, PBPN Secretary, Hattie Mitchell, Treasurer and Thomas Wabnum, Member. Also in attendance were Joshua Arce, President of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Entertainment Corporation and board member Frank Tecumseh. The remainder of the crowd included local residents, labor union members, business leaders and local politicians. Speakers were given three minutes to make a statement with the BIA noting that no feedback would be provided by the organization or the crowd. In total, 31 individuals voiced their opinions and concerns.
The content of the statements were evenly distributed between those pointing out possible drawbacks and those eager to experience the potential benefits. Some of the concerns raised were worry about the impact to the nature preserves, gambling addiction and money leaving the community. Other views expressed the economic gain for individuals through job creation, for the local communities through increased use of existing businesses and revenue generation for local and state governments. In the statement made by Tribal Treasurer, Hattie Mitchell said, “We can use our Shab-eh-nay Reservation to be an economic engine and job creator not only for ourselves, but for the region as well.”
The BIA will continue to receive comments on the proposal until February 22, 2016. After which a scoping report will be prepared summarizing all comments received.  All future postings and information will be published at
~ Related Information ~
  • Background
  • Project Location
  • BIA Contact Information
In 1849 the Shab-eh-nay Reservation lands were illegally sold. In 2006 the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation purchased approximately 128 acres of land within the boundaries of the historic Reservation. In 2014 the PBPN filed to put this land into trust. This action falls within the the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires a review occur prior to taking a major federal action.
NEPA outline of review process:
1. Notice of Intent: Published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2016.
2. Scoping (Public Meeting): Held on January 26, 2016.
a. Scoping comment period ends on February 22, 2016.
b. A scoping report will be prepared summarizing all comments received.
c. The BIA will utilize the scoping report in preparing the Draft EIS.
3. Draft Environmental Impact Statement
a. This document will analyze the environmental impacts of the proposedaction along with a reasonable range of alternatives.
b. This document will be available for at least 45 days for review andcomments.
4. Agency/Public Review (2nd Public Meeting)
5. Final Environmental Impact Statement
a. This document will include responses to all substantive comments receivedon the Draft EIS.
6. Record of Decision (ROD) – Marks the end of the NEPA process
a.  At least 30 days after the publication of the Final EIS the BIA will issue aROD which will include whether or not to approve the proposed action.
All future NEPA documents will be posted online at
Project Location
The land owned by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and proposed for this project is located in DeKalb County, Illinois near the Village of Shabbona.
BIA Contact Information
BIA Contact Information for comments may be hand carried, mailed or faxed to:
Ms. Diane Rosen, Midwest Regional Director
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Midwest Regional Office
Norman Pointe II Building
5600 West American Boulevard, Suite 500
Bloomington, MN 55437
Fax: 612-713-4401
For further information, contact:
Scott Doig, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Phone: 612-725-4514 or email