Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan

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Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan
Regions with significant populations
United States United States (Michigan Michigan)
English, Potawatomi
traditional tribal religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Council of Three Fires (Odawa, Ojibwe, and other Potawatomi tribes)

The Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan is a federally recognized tribe of Potawatomi people in Michigan named for a 19th-century Ojibwe chief. They were formerly known as the Gun Lake Band of Grand River Ottawa Indians,[1] the United Nation of Chippewa, Ottawa and Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan, Inc.,[1] and the Gun Lake Tribe or Gun Lake Band.[2] They are headquartered in Bradley, Michigan.


Ancestors of this mixed band belonged to the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Ottawa, and Pottawatomi peoples, who lived around the Great Lakes in what became Canada and the United States. The tribes tended to be highly decentralized, with most people living in bands. Under pressure and encroachment by Europeans, there were substantial population losses among the tribes, and some of their people moved west into Minnesota. Others remained in rural areas of Michigan and Wisconsin.

They all spoke Algonquian languages, part of a large language family extending from the Atlantic Coast and around the Great Lakes, and had some cultural similarities. Original members of the Gun Lake Band were survivors of these three tribes who gathered together in community near Gun Lake, Michigan.


The tribe was recognized by the US federal government on August 23, 1999. It has a written constitution and elected democratic government, consisting of six tribal council members and a chairperson.

The current (4/12/2019) tribal council is as follows:

  • Bob Peters, Chairperson
  • Ed Pigeon, Vice-Chair
  • Jeff Martin, Secretary
  • Open, Treasurer
  • Jodie Palmer, At-Large Councilperson
  • Phyllis Davis, At-Large Councilperson
  • Nicole Overbeck, Salem District Councilperson


The tribal council voted on rules for enrollment or membership in the tribe. As of 2009, the tribe's enrollment is open only to babies born to current tribal members.[3]

The tribe says they are "a body of mixed-blood Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawatomi" who trace their descent from the principal chief Match-e-be-nash-she-wish. Under the Treaty of Chicago in 1821, the US government provided him and his followers with a reserve near Kalamazoo, Michigan.[1]


Location of the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Reservation

The Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Reservation (42°38′03″N 85°39′26″W / 42.63417°N 85.65722°W / 42.63417; -85.65722) is located in Wayland Township, south of the city of Wayland, Michigan. Since being recognized, the tribe was assigned land in trust by the federal government in 2005.[4]

In 2009 under Carcieri v. Salazar, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government could not take land into trust for tribes that were recognized after the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Congress in 2014 passed Public Law No: 113-179 (09/26/2014), a law to clarify that the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band's land trust assigned to them in 2005 could not be challenged in court under the United States Supreme Court decision of Carcieri v. Salazar.[5][6][7]

Tribal enterprises[edit]

The primary tribal enterprise is the Gun Lake Casino. The first phase was built in 2009 on part of the 147 acres in Allegan County, Michigan that the tribe was given in January 2009 as a land base by the federal government.[8] It generated 750 jobs during construction. The tribe estimated that it would attract 60,000 guests annually to area hotels. The tribe did not plan to build and operate a hotel. Further, they estimated the enterprise would bring 600 casino jobs.[8]

The tribe publishes a newspaper, called The Tribal Tribune.[3] They provide cultural workshops on traditional practices, such as cradle fire from flint, tapping and processing maple sugar, creating basswood and hemp dogbane cordage, snowsnakes or zhoshke'nayabo, and black ash basketry, a traditional art form among Michigan tribes.[9]


The reservation is served by Wayland Union Schools.

Notable members[edit]

Cherish Parrish, sixth-generation black ash basket weaver and enrolled tribal member


  1. ^ a b c Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan, William L. Church, May 16, 1994.
  2. ^ "Tribal Council", Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi. (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  3. ^ a b "Member Services." Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi. (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)
  4. ^ "Overview P.L. 113-179", Congress; accessed 27 November 2016
  5. ^ "Senate Indian Affairs Committee business meeting and hearing". 19 May 2014. Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  6. ^ "CBO - S. 1603". Congressional Budget Office. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  7. ^ Cox, Ramsey (19 June 2014). "Senate passes land trust bill for Pottawatomi Indians". The Hill. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Ground broken on casino that Station will manage", Las Vegas Sun, Amanda Finnegan, Sept. 18, 2009
  9. ^ "Language/Culture." Archived 2013-04-15 at Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi. (retrieved 18 Dec 2009)

External links[edit]