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U.S. Supreme Court won't review northern Michigan tribal land rights case

Little Traverse Bay
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The land around Little Traverse Bay, including Petoskey and Harbor Springs, is part of the area in question.

In 2015, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians filed a lawsuit. It said an 1855 treaty created a reservation of over 300 square miles in Emmet and Charlevoix counties.

A federal judge ruled in 2019 that the treaty only offered the tribe pieces of the land for members to have homes.

The tribe appealed. But on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Had the decision been reversed, it would have meant more tribal control of land up north. A similar case in Oklahoma ceded about half of the state’s land to the tribe’s authority.

Tribal Chairperson Regina Gasco-Bentley said in a statement the tribe is sad and disappointed.

She says it will continue to work in cooperation with the U.S. government as honorable stewards of the area’s sacred land and water.

Townships and a landowner’s association in the disputed area were opposed to the tribes’ position. They feared it could mean changes for law enforcement and zoning in their communities.

IPR's Taylor Wizner is passionate about empowering communities through solid reporting.
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