FireKeepers Casino Hotel and its operator, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, were awarded the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman’s Leadership Award on October 21. NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens visited FireKeepers Casino Hotel, the Tribe’s Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Fulton, Michigan, as well as The Fire Hub restaurant and the Kendall Street Pantry in Battle Creek. 

During his visit, Chairman Stevens noted the Tribe’s work feeding local residents in need as he toured The Fire Hub restaurant, which gives 80% of its profits to local charities. The Kendall Street Pantry is attached to The Fire Hub and partners with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan to help end food insecurity. 

“I will always remember what you’ve done with this old fire station,” said Chairman Stevens. “On the right, we go to one of the neatest restaurants I’ve ever been in, and on the left we go to a place where people can get the help they need. These are the things that make the world turn for us, and mean a great deal to me personally.” 

“To be recognized as a tribe speaks volumes about us for being a nation that does things for good reasons, focusing on community outreach, not just what we can do economically,” said Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Council Chairperson Jamie Stuck. “I appreciate that it focuses on the wellness and success of the tribe as a whole, instead of an individual, and it shows how keeping true to our community’s mission and vision has put us in a good position in these unprecedented times.”

Chairman Stevens also gave the Award to showcase the FireKeepers Casino Hotel being recently named by Forbes as being among the top ten best employers in Michigan. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos comprised the 11th largest employer in the United States.

“We are proud of this recognition of our work as an employer of choice,” said FireKeepers Casino Hotel CEO Kathy George. “To have both NIGA and Forbes identify us as a premier employer is a clear indication of how we treat our team members and a validation of their dedication to providing every patron with a rewarding experience at FireKeepers.”

The Chairman’s Leadership Award was also awarded to highlight the Tribe’s work with the Native American Heritage Fund, which supports positive Native relationships and imagery with local communities throughout Michigan.

“This is foundational work you are doing to help educate America,” said Chairman Stevens. “I appreciate what you have done to educate the world around you to better understand and appreciate our culture and traditions.”


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