Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians applauds governor for decision impacting ancestral lands

DATE: Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Governor’s decision leaves opportunities open for local economic development

LANSING – The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declined to concur with the Little River Band proposal seeking to build an off-reservation casino in the Muskegon area.

“We applaud Gov. Whitmer for her thoughtfulness and for doing the appropriate due diligence to make this important decision,” said Ron Yob, chairman of the Grand River Bands. “With this decision now made, the Grand River Bands will finalize our federal recognition with the potential of pursuing economic development activities in the Muskegon area. On behalf of our hundreds of tribal members, we applaud Gov. Whitmer for issuing a nonconcurrence decision while our petition for federal recognition is still a pending matter.”

While recognized by the state of Michigan, the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians has been working to gain federal recognition for nearly three decades. Its petition for recognition has been on the “active consideration list” with the U.S. Department of the Interior since 2013 and is on the final step for being recognized.

In April, the Department of the Interior announced it would issue proposed findings on the Grand River Bands’ petition by Oct. 15.

Federal recognition would allow the Grand River Bands to access resources that are only afforded to federally recognized tribes such as tuition, health care and housing assistance.

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The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians is a native sovereign nation 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.