Reps. García, Underwood Introduce Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Settlement Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) recently introduced H.R. 8380, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Settlement Act of 2022, a bipartisan effort to right a historic wrong against the tribal community. The legislation settles ownership interests of the Prairie Band and current non-Native occupants within the Reservation. It also provides a full remedy for the damages and lost rents to the Prairie Band associated with more than 170 years of being denied the use of its lands by federal officials.

“While this legislation will not entirely right this historical wrong committed against the Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation, it is an important first step toward justice,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “By recognizing the historical tribal right to this land, we recognize the mistakes in our nation’s history. This bill will finally enable the tribe to reclaim a portion of stolen land and be rightfully compensated. I am proud to be leading this important effort to acknowledge this historic injustice.”

“173 years ago, our federal government unlawfully sold the Prairie Band Potawatomi’s Reservation in Illinois,” said Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. “This is the first step toward righting this wrong. Representative García and I introduced the Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Settlement Act to make the tribe whole and return land that is rightfully theirs.”

“We have been asking for this recognition and for what is rightfully ours for nearly 200 years,” said Prairie Band Chairman Joseph Rupnick, the fourth-generation great-grandson of Chief Shab-eh-nay. “This progress in Congress, led by Representatives García and Underwood, puts our tribal nation one step closer to righting this centuries-long injustice.”

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Settlement Act of 2022 would: 

  • Reaffirm the Nation’s ownership and jurisdiction to the 130 acres of land within the Reservation that the Nation has reacquired
  • Extinguish the Nation’s title to the remainder of the original Shab-eh-nay Reservation and confirms ownership and title of the non-Indian individuals and governments occupying land within the Reservation
  • Establish a process for compensating for the wrongful taking of 1,151 acres of land within the original Reservation, with an initial authorization of a $10 million payment
  • Allow the Nation to utilize settlement act monies to reacquire an additional 1,151 acres of additional lands on or near the Reservation

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Settlement Act of 2022 is endorsed by the Shabenay Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.