Judge rules against Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Aug 16, 2019

A federal judge has ruled against the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in a lawsuit to affirm its reservation boundaries.

The tribe sued the state of Michigan in 2016, arguing that the Treaty of 1855 established a 337-square-mile reservation on lands including the cities of Petoskey, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs.

However, a summary judgement issued by Judge Paul L. Maloney says the treaty "cannot plausibly be read to create an Indian reservation."

Affirming the reservation would not have given the tribe ownership of the land. The tribe has said it wants more legal jurisdiction over tribal citizens within those boundaries.

An attorney representing the tribe in the case, Jessica Intermill, says the tribe is surprised and disappointed.

"It is a break with a long line of federal law that says the 1855 Treaty did create a reservation," says Intermill.

Tribal chairwoman Regina Gasco-Bentley says the tribe is currently considering its legal options and has no further comment at this time.