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Sen. Mark Huizenga urges federal recognition of Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Mark Huizenga’s resolution to urge the U.S. Department of Interior to approve the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians’ petition for federal acknowledgment.

“The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians submitted their application for federal recognition to the U.S. Office of Federal Acknowledgment in 1994. Almost three decades later, the tribe is still waiting to have their application approved — the longest active review in U.S. history,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. “An erroneously delayed government process must not continue to impede the tribe’s ability to fill its role as a valued member of the West Michigan community.”

Senate Resolution 151 says that the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians’ request has been on the “active consideration” list since 2013. Without federal recognition, members are denied their rights to health care, housing, and education assistance, among others, through resources that are provided only to federally recognized tribes.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue — it’s about fairness and good governance. The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians have provided important social welfare programs for its members and other urban tribes and they deserve their long-overdue federal recognition,” Huizenga said. “They are valued partners in shaping the future of our region and our state. This resolution is to support the tribe and respect the treaty rights of a distinct and sovereign people.”

SR 151 notes that the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians are the political successor of the Grand River Ottawa people that first established a sovereign-to-sovereign relationship with the United States in the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, the 1821 Treaty of Chicago, and the 1836 Treaty of Washington. It was further strengthened by the 1855 Treaty of Detroit, which recognized the tribe’s ancestral homelands in West Michigan.

Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the governor, the U.S. secretary of the interior, and the director of the U.S. Office of Federal Acknowledgment.

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Editor’s note: Video of Huizenga speaking on the Senate floor about SR 151 is available by clicking on the image or by visiting SenatorMarkHuizenga.com/video/.