Pokagon Tribal Council Chairman Matthew Wesaw addresses the gathering Wednesday in the circular courtroom at a news conference to unveil the Pokagon Justice Center in Dowagiac. Pokagon Chief Judge Michael Petoskey thanks the many people involved with the design and construction of the new center. Pokagon Band members gathered Wednesday to dedicate the tribe’s new Justice Center at the Sink Road campus. The 23,000-square-foot facility is home to the tribe’s court and police offices, which had been housed elsewhere in the Dowagiac area. The new center is one of three projects totaling $25 million done over the last year on the campus.
Visitors to the new Justice Center will see the influence of the tribe’s traditions in the architecture. The courtroom is circular and uses natural materials, including wood from the tribe’s South Bend property. Design elements include a basket weave pattern on the walls, a radial wood slat ceiling to represent the sun, plus copper colors to represent healing.
“A great deal of thought went into this building,” said Tribal Chief Judge Michael Petoskey. “It reflects how we view justice, community service and problem solving. The focus is on restorative justice and community building. You’re going to see our culture really showcased in this building. We really believe in the power of the circle.”
Petoskey noted that the tribal court has jurisdiction over any criminal matter or civil infractions committed by tribal members on tribal land. “We are a separate branch of the government and handle many different things including disputes, […]