CHALLENGES/REWARDS: Much like the majority of businesses in the hospitality industry, macroeconomic conditions will be playing a significant factor in operations this year. Staffing, inflation, and supply chain challenges have carried over year to year. The management and staff at FireKeepers consistently overcome these challenges with enthusiasm and continue to deliver the same excellent guest service our guests have come to expect.
The end of 2022 produced much momentum for FireKeepers. We announced a new CEO, Frank Tecumseh (a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation); promoted Bryant Phillips, one of our own tribal members, to Vice President of Human Resources; received multiple awards, including Forbes Employer of the Year and AAA Four Diamond hotel and restaurant honors; and set multiple business records. I do not doubt that the team will continue building upon that momentum throughout 2023.
PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: The Seven Grandfather Teachings, along with our five-year strategic plan, serve as guideposts in our vision and mission. Being in compliance with these principles is the foundation that leads our employees and members. Prioritizing sovereignty, culture, health and healing, financial wellness, and organizational excellence ensures the emotional, physical, and financial well-being of our tribal community for the next Seven Generations.
FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: We have several exciting projects and initiatives coming up this year. Extensive planning for the 2023 Annual Gathering of Potawatomi Nations is underway. We’re honored to host the annual event this year and have been working diligently to ensure we develop a week-long agenda of activities rich with culture, connection, education and fun. Construction has begun on a new housing development on the Pine Creek Reservation and a new food and beverage outlet at FireKeepers.
We will soon be announcing the recipients of the Native American Heritage Fund, which promotes positive relationships and accurate information about the history and role of Michigan’s Indian tribes and Native Americans in the State of Michigan. Building upon our food sovereignty initiative, we help feed tribal members and neighbors in need within the surrounding communities. Waséyabek, our economic development company, is working to diversify revenue streams beyond gaming, as well as creating dividends in revenue and assets and expanding career development.
We are also lobbying on all levels for initiatives surrounding the Indian Child Welfare Act to achieve a tribal nation free from violence, to end the epidemic of violence committed against Indigenous people by standing in solidarity for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, and uniting all Michigan tribes in opposition of the Enbridge pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.