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Pokagon Band invests $25M for health services expansion

November 24, 2018

DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is investing $25 million to expand health services in southwestern Michigan.

The project is expanding the Pokagon Health Services’ Rodgers Lake campus, the South Bend Tribune reported .

The health service has 2,200 registered members, up from 700 in 2014, said Jason Wesaw, tribal government manager. Tribal members get health care services at no cost.

Keeping members healthy is a priority for the tribe of about 6,000, Wesaw said.

“The life expectancy of a Pokagon is 60 compared to the national average of 76,” Wesaw said. “Even Native Americans as a whole have a higher life expectancy than us.”

The 35,000-square-foot health services building currently offers family medical clinic, pharmacy, workout facility, counseling, and optical and dental care, Wesaw said. There is also traditional healing that involves medicinal plants and herbs.

The facility will nearly double in size with the addition of a Pokagon Family Center. It will host the annual tribal meeting, dances, indoor powwows and other large gatherings.

“The big thing for us is expanding our dental,” Wesaw said. “We need to have more chairs to meet the demand.”

Money will also be used to install a new water system for the buildings that sit on the 300-acre reservation, as well as to construct a new 30,000-square-foot justice center, which will house tribal court and tribal police headquarters.

“We’re combining the two but they’re separate, so there’s a clear distinction between court and law enforcement,” Wesaw said.

About 50 police officers from an office south of Dowagiac would move onto the reservation land, he said.

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