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Bipartisan, bicameral bill could settle UP tribe's land claims

BARAGA, MI— A federal bill introduced Tuesday would compensate the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community for land illegally taken from the tribe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The legislation is sponsored by U-S Representative Jack Bergman and Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow.

Treaties signed in 1842 and 1854 guaranteed the KBIC occupancy over a large area of land established as the L’Anse Reservation. But between 1855 and 1937—while the treaties were still in effect—the federal government awarded nearly 6,800 acres of tribal land to the state as compensation for construction of the Sault Ste. Marie canal. The KBIC asserts the transfer was illegal under the treaties.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Land Claim Settlement Act of 2023 would right the wrong by authorizing federal funds through the U.S. Department of the Interior. The money could be used by the KBIC for governmental services, economic development, natural resource protection, and land acquisition.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.