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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Two MI Tribes make land purchase in an effort to return land back into the hands of Native Americans

McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids

Two sister Pottawatomi tribes have announced they are purchasing the McKay Tower located on the northwest corner of Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids. The effort is the product of a partnership between the Gun Lake Investments and the Waséyabek Development Company, and an opportunity to put the tribes back in the community in a recognizable way. Here is Deidre Mitchel from the Waseyabek Development Company. 

“Both tribes, their ancestral land were in this area back there was the Native Village here right in downtown Grand Rapids; and so, its very meaningful to the tribes to be able to participate in the community of Grand Rapids given that our ancestral lands are in this area.” 

Image showing Native American settlements in downtown Grand Rapids
Credit Grand Rapids Public Library
Native American settlements in downtown Grand Rapids

According to the work of local historian, James McClurken, in 1836,  a council was held in the Grand Rapids area between the Odawa of the Grand River valley and those in Northern Michigan. At the council, the tribes agreed they would not cede their lands and would resist removal, but despite their efforts to resist, rumors of U.S. plan to remove them – a treaty was eventually signed, still only a small number of Odawa actually signed the 1836 Treaty of Washington ceding their lands in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

And while Mitchel says what happen to native people in Grand Rapids is a tragedy, this investment will aid in generating long term wealth for tribal citizens for generations to come. 

“One of our missions is to provide economic sustainability for tribal members in our tribes individually and collectively.” 

Under this new co-investment, the building will continue to offer apartment, office, retail and commercial space for leasing as well as venue space for special events. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News. 

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