Plans for Muskegon Casino?

From the Muskegon Chronicle: “Flying under the public radar screen since a successful 2003 non-binding city of Muskegon ballot proposal supporting the concept of a casino for downtown Muskegon, Archimedes Group LLC now has unveiled a $2.4 billion concept plan for a downtown Muskegon waterfront casino resort that is predicated on federal tribal recognition for the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians.”

Later in the article, the Archimedes people made an assertion that doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny:

“Left unanswered is how the Grand River Band gains the ability to open an Indian casino in downtown Muskegon, but Archimedes spokesman Dick Anderson said the tribe is ‘on the cusp’ of federal recognition — a critical step in the process.”

Our post about the federal recognition process and the Grand River Band is here. There is support from Senator Levin, but I would surprised if there is a serious push in Congress to recognize the Band. I would like to be wrong, but announcing plans for casinos long before federal recognition is a certainty creates more difficulty for unrecognized tribes.

Soo Tribe Board Officially Approves Inland Settlement

From the Soo Evening News: “The final piece of the puzzle appears to be in place as all five tribes have officially agreed to the 2007 Inland Hunting and Fishing Decree paving the way for an upcoming date in federal court.

“The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Board of Directors put the official stamp of approval on the deal Sunday during a special meeting. Reports indicate that two board members – Robert LaPointe and Shirley Petoskey – voted against the measure. Denise Chase was reportedly absent for the session and did not weigh in, while the rest of the board members approved the agreement.

“The tribe’s membership had overwhelmingly approved the agreement last week 3,476-678 in a special referendum.

“The other four tribes affected by the Treaty of 1836 had already approved the agreement with the State of Michigan defining inland hunting and fishing rights in perpetuity.”

Pokagon Band Distribution Fund

From WSJV:

A Band of Native Americans Give Back  

A band of Native Americans are giving back to the land and its people.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo launched the Pokagon Fund.

It goes above and beyond what Michigan provides in money for the area. The fund is open to cities and non-profit groups including the arts and culture and health services.

It aims at enhancing people’s lives.

Pokagon Fund Executive Director Mary Dunbar says, “We’re really looking forward to seeing the kinds of applications that come through. Right now we don’t know what kinds of projects we’ll be funding and we look forward to receiving applications.”

The fund comes from electronic gaming money at the Casino Resort. For a grant application and guidelines, log on to

More coverage of this interesting concept here and here.

Indian Families and Peyote

From the Leelanau Enterprise:  “Leelanau County Family Court Judge Joseph E. Deegan last week ordered that the parents of three children who are members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians must refrain from giving their children hallucinogenic peyote as part of Native American religious rituals.”

This appears to be an emerging issue in Michigan and perhaps elsewhere. Naturally, these cases arise when the families split and custody and visitation questions are decided in court. Interestingly, because there is relatively little trust land in Michigan, I would imagine that few (if any) of these cases are heard in tribal court. I wonder if the outcomes would be different.

Gun Lake Casino Oral Argument Report

From the Kalamazoo Gazette: “Both sides said they were optimistic after arguments were presented Friday before the U.S. Court of Appeals over the future of a proposed Indian casino in Wayland Township.James Nye, a spokesman for the Gun Lake Tribe of Potawatomi Indians, said the group is prepared to begin casino construction before year’s end if the three-judge panel ejects a challenge by Michigan Gambling Opposition, or MichGO.”

MichGO v. Kempthorne Materials

This case involves a challenge to the Secretary of Interior’s decision to take land into trust for gaming purposes benefiting the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (a/k/a Gun Lake Band).

Here is a recent news article noting that the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in this case this morning.

Here is Gun Lake’s appellate brief [it is very large, 103 pages].

Saginaw Chippewa v. Granholm Materials

Please find below the amended complaint, answers, and other court documents from this ongoing and important case — (scary, too, if SCIT loses).

Amended Complaint

Answer to Amended Complaint

US Intervenor Complaint

Answer to Intervenor Complaint

Isabella County Motion to Intervene

Copper and Nickel Mining Proposal in the UP

Once again, mining companies are promising wealth and prosperity (along with no pollution) to the residents of the UP, this time proposing to dig a mine under Big Bay.

From the Detroit Free Press: “The proposed Kennecott Eagle mine would be dug directly beneath the shimmering Salmon Trout River, home to the rare coaster brook trout, and its tunnel would be blasted below Eagle Rock, considered sacred by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.”

Crooked Tree 2008 Art Exhibition

From the Harbor Light newspaper: “During the run of the exhibition a DVD created by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians entitled: The Four Directions and the Waganakising Odawa will be playing the gallery. The video has been selected as the Official Selection Bell South Native American Film Festival 2006. Different items from local Odawa collections will be on display in the gallery to bring the traditions of the culture to life; baskets, house wares, plants, hides, carvings will all be part of the Four Directions experience.”

Profiling Frank Ettawageshik — Indigenous Law Conference Keynote Speaker

The Petoskey News Review has published a nice profile of Frank Ettawageshik, the chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. An excerpt:

 Ettawageshik is known for his efforts locally and nationally. He has testified nationally before a house committee in Washington, D.C., on aquatic invasive species. In 2006, he testified in front of a senate committee, requesting funding for the implementation of the strategic plan for the restoration and conservation of the Great Lakes.

Ettawageshik also led 140 tribes and Canadian First Nations to sign the historic Tribal and First National Great Lakes Water Accord, urging Canadian provincial and Great Lakes state governments with boundaries on the Great Lakes to prevent diversion of the waters.

Ettawageshik said he was humbled by the honor but more work needs to be done.

“People look around and see so much water and they don’t understand how fragile our Great Lakes ecosystem is,” Ettawageshik said. “ I have tried to sum up what were doing. The answers that came to me is if it’s harmful don’t do it and if we’re already doing it stop and if we’ve already made a problem clean it up.”

Frank will be our keynote speaker at this year’s conference, “American Indian Law & Literature.”