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Petoskey area part of Indian reservation for more than 160 years, lawsuit claims

Oct 31, 2016

A treaty signed in the 1800's could dramatically change the political, environmental, and cultural landscape in northern Michigan.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians have gone to federal court and are suing the state of Michigan.

The tribes claim a treaty signed in 1855 declared a reservation for them on what is today 337 square miles of land and 103 miles of lake shore. That land includes the cities of Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Good Hart, part of Charlevoix, as well as two islands in Lake Michigan.

Attorney Jim Bransky of Traverse City represents the tribe.

He said the tribe is not trying to create a reservation. Nor is it trying to reestablish one.

“All it’s claiming is that just as the tribe has remained in its homeland from start time through the present – even with all the more recent immigrants from Europe and other places – that the reservation that was reserved for the tribe in the 1855 treaty has also constantly remained,” he said. “So the suit simply asks the federal government to recognize what we believe is the legal and historic reality.”