The Pokagon Health and Wellness Center in Dowagiac will feature elements of the tribe’s heritage. Courtesy Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is building part of its heritage into a 35,000-square-foot health and wellness center in the region.
The tribe said last week that it's building out its Pokagon Health and Wellness Center in Dowagiac, completing the steel topping and roof for facility, located west of the tribe's administration building, which is at 58620 Sink Rd.
The center is scheduled to open this October and is financed through the tribe’s general fund.
The tribe said the building will incorporate architecture, materials and colors that reflect the Pokagon Band’s culture. The tribe also plans to have the building LEED Gold certified.
Jason Wesaw, government manager of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, said the health and wellness center’s incorporation of tradition will create an encouraging atmosphere for citizens.
“It will have the same feel as the rest of our buildings — it’s built in the traditional way,” Wesaw said. “Such as the eastern-facing door and a grand entry with a rotunda to make everyone feel welcome, to feel the culture when they come in.”
Construction of the Pokagon Health and Wellness Center began last fall under the direction of The Christman Company, based in Lansing.
Several citizens of the Pokagon Band have been working on the building with the construction services and management firm.
Wesaw said that since the health of tribal citizens is the number-one priority among the tribe, it was important to support current medical needs and those that may develop in the future when obtaining approval from the tribal council for construction and design of the health center.
“Currently, the structure that we have now is a rental, and the space is not adequate for our staff or our patients,” Wesaw said. “So we want to be able to provide a facility that will allow for the very best patient care and customer services for our citizens.”
John P. Warren, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, said the health and wellness center will provide comprehensive medical services to Pokagon citizens and other Native Americans.
The center will encompass a range of disciplines: dental, pharmaceutical, medical, traditional healing and behavioral health.
The medical clinic is designed to accommodate three physicians with a respective exam room, and the dental suite allows for two dentists to work with a total of four chairs.
The center will offer various patient services: diagnosis, prevention and treatment of acute and chronic illness; a traditional healing space; physical therapy area; and exercise equipment.
“Wellness is very important to us to be able to combat some of the health issues that face Native Americans: diabetes, obesity, heart disease,” Wesaw said.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians encompasses four counties in southwestern Michigan and six counties in northern Indiana.
With approximately 4,800 citizens, the Pokagon Band said it has adapted seven traditional ideals to contemporary circumstances and is dedicated to providing community development initiatives and cultural preservation.