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Tribe sues Michigan over land jurisdiction

Aug 25, 2015

Little Traverse Bay on the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians reservation.
Credit Bkonrad / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is suing the state of Michigan over reservation boundaries.

The tribe filed a federal complaint last week in an effort to reaffirm sovereign powers they say are guaranteed under an 1855 treaty.

Jessica Intermill, a lawyer for the tribe, said the state has insisted on jurisdiction over child welfare, grave-site protection, and elder care programs within reservation boundaries.

"Under federal law, that jurisdiction is exclusively with the tribe, and the state should not have a role," Intermill said.

Intermill said the lawsuit won't affect non-tribe members who own property on the reservation.

In a statement, the tribe said it "does not seek title to private lands" and "only seeks to clarify jurisdictional lines that are largely invisible to the general population."

The reservation runs along a 30-mile stretch on the northwestern coast of the Lower Peninsula.

It includes the cities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and portions of Charlevoix.