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DOI rejects Grand River Bands’ request for federal recognition

Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians

Could pave way for new casino in Fruitport Township  

After years of pursuing federal recognition of its tribe, The United States Department of Interior has formally rejected The Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians request.

Meanwhile, the denial may pave-the-way for construction to begin on a proposed casino in Fruitport Township.

A new casino on what was once the Great Lakes Downs racetrack in Fruitport Township has been in the works for over a decade, and developers were ready to break ground in the summer of 2022. The last hurdle, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially signing off on the project.

Whitmer refused to do so last June however, after the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians claimed rightful ownership to the land, and pleaded with the Governor’s office for help.

The Department of Interior cried foul on Whitmer’s decision; telling the Governor that the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians had been seeking federal recognition for over 20 years, and had been denied every single time for not meeting certain criteria.

The DOI then told the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the tribe behind the casino in Fruitport and operators of another one in Manistee, to re-submit its application.

Meanwhile, the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians have six months to appeal the DOI’s decision, which Chief Ron Yob says, he plans on doing; meaning, a casino in Fruitport will most likely have to wait another year.

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