IBIA rejects challenge to Grand Traverse Band land-into-trust bid

The land-into-trust property lies along M-72 in Acme Township, Michigan. Image from Google Maps

The Interior Board of Indian Appeals dismissed a challenge to a land-into-trust application for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan.

Grand Traverse County argued that the Bureau of Indian Affairs lacked authority to acquire land for the tribe under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling restricts the land-into-trust process for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934.

The IBIA acknowledged "confusion and uncertainty" regarding the tribe's status in 1934. But the decision said the BIA took a look at the historical record and found that the tribe met the test.

"In our view, the existence of hunting and fishing rights, reserved in and protected by Congressionally ratified treaties, and for which the United States continued to have an obligation, is as compelling and dispositive evidence to demonstrate that the tribe was under federal jurisdiction in 1934 as would be the case if the United States had held land in trust for the tribe," the IBIA wrote.

The application covers about 159 acres of mostly undeveloped land, including parcels sometimes referred to as the Hoxie or Hoxsie Property. A portion also lies near the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel but the land won't be used for gaming or for an expansion of gaming, the tribe said in its application.

Get the Story:
County Loses Trust Appeal (The Traverse Ticker 9/30)
Federal judges uphold land trust decision (The Traverse City Record-Eagle 9/30)

Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decision:
Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners v. Acting Midwest Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs (September 25, 2015)

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