Lawmaker introduces resolution supporting federal action to recognize tribe
LANSING – The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians yesterday applauded a resolution supporting the tribe’s long overdue petition for federal recognition and renewed its call for federal officials to recognize the tribe after years of inaction and delays, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. David LaGrand introduced the resolution in the Michigan House of Representatives, encouraging the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve the Grand River Bands’ petition, which has been on the “active consideration list” since 2013. The tribe has been working to gain federal recognition for nearly three decades.
“We want to thank Rep. LaGrand for introducing this important resolution, and we hope the full Legislature will add its voice to our mission to achieve federal recognition,” said Ron Yob, chairman of the Grand River Bands. “For too long, the lack of recognition has unjustly and unfairly deprived our tribal members of key resources such as health care and educational opportunities which are afforded to federally recognized tribes. We continue to urge federal officials to approve our petition as soon as possible.”
The resolution comes after multiple lawmakers wrote letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior urging swift action on the tribe’s petition for federal recognition.
“I am calling on my colleagues in the Michigan Legislature to approve this resolution in support of the Grand River Bands, a tribe with deep roots and amazing history in West Michigan,” LaGrand said. “We ask that the Department of the Interior issue a speedy determination on the Grand River Bands’ petition, as federal recognition would allow the tribe to access vital resources.”
Federal recognition would allow the Grand River Bands to access resources that are only afforded to federally recognized tribes like tuition, health care, and housing assistance. The Grand River Bands were recognized by the 1838 Treaty of Washington, and this recognition was strengthened by the 1855 Treaty of Detroit.
The Michigan House resolution can be viewed online.
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The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians is a native sovereign nation recognized by the state of Michigan with agreements with the federal government dating back to 1795. The Grand River Bands originally included 19 bands of Ottawa people who lived along the Grand River and other waterways in southwest Michigan. Most of the Grand River Bands’ current membership resides in Kent, Muskegon and Oceana counties.