Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

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Seal of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Grand Traverse Band enrolled member Dennis Esquivel, painter and fine woodworker

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe in Michigan. Alvin Pedwaydon is the current tribal chairman, elected in May 2012[1] to succeed Derek Bailey who was the chairman of the Tribal Council from 2008–2012,[2][3] whose offices are in Peshawbestown, Michigan. The current GTB Tribal Council is: Chairman Alvin Pedwaydon, Vice-Chair JoAnne Cook, Treasurer Tom P. Shomin, Secretary David Arroyo, Councilor Frank Wilson, Councilor Mark L. Wilson, and Council Tanya Raphael. The tribe owns and operates the Leelanau Sands Casino, the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, and the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.


Referring to themselves as Anishinaabeg or Three Fires Confederacy, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians includes members of the Odaawaa/Odawa (Ottawa), the Ojibwe (Ojibwa/Chippewa) and Boodewaadami/Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi) peoples.

Federal Recognition[edit]

Under the Indian Reorganization Act, they applied for federal recognition in 1934 and 1943 and were denied. However, in 1978 Dodie Harris Chambers led an effort for recognition and on May 27, 1980, the tribe was formally recognized. The Grand Traverse Band is the first federally recognized tribe in Michigan and one of the first tribes to own a casino in the United States.[4]


Members are descended from the various Ottawa (Odawa) and Chippewa (Ojibwe) peoples from northern Michigan.

The tribe's government includes a governing body consisting of a tribal chair and six other tribal council members, elected by the Grand Traverse Band membership. The band has programming, fiscal and administrative authority. The council also appoints judicial officers that decide criminal, family and civil matters in conjunction with the state court.

The water resources within the 1855 reservation area include Grand Traverse Bay, the eastern shore of Michigan, Lake Leelanau, Elk Lake, and their watersheds. Other natural resources of importance include undeveloped forested parcels and areas of traditional and cultural hunting, fishing and plant gathering.

The Grand Traverse Band's Natural Resources Department is made up of a department manager, game wardens, Great Lakes fishery biologists and technician, fish and wildlife biologists and technician, environmental and water quality staff, and an office manager.


Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indians all migrated from the east coast settling throughout Canada, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota – all having established reservations today in only Canada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

The Ottawa Tribe[edit]

Ottawa, or alternatively "Odawa" or "Odawu" derives either from the term "trader" or a truncated version of an Ottawa phrase meaning people of the bulrush. Historically, the members of the tribe are descendants of and politically successors to nine Ottawa Bands who were party to the Treaties of 1836 and 1855 of a total of nineteen bands listed as Grand River Band Ottawa. After the 1855 Treaty, all of the Ottawa Bands located from the Manistee River south to Grand River near or on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan were relocated to reservation lands in Mason and Ocaena Counties. The permanent villages of the Grand River Bands Ottawa including those nine Bands now considered as Little River members, were located on the Thornapple, Grand, White, Pere Marquette and Big and Little Manistee Rivers in Michigan’s western Lower Peninsula.

The Ottawa and Chippewa Treaty of Detroit was signed in 1855 and created an Ottawa/Chippewa nation.

The Chippewa Tribe[edit]

The Chippewa (also "Ojibwe", "Ojibway", "Chippeway", "Anishinaabe") are the largest Native American group north of the Rio Grande. Their population is split between Canada and the United States. The Bay Mills Indian Community is located at the land base of the Sault Ste. Marie band of Chippewas. With the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, the Bay Mills Indian Community was created.


The territory of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is the Grand Traverse Indian Reservation (45°01′13″N 85°36′22″W / 45.02028°N 85.60611°W / 45.02028; -85.60611), as established by United States Secretary of the Interior on 27 May 1980 and includes lands acquired by the Band. The Grand Traverse Band's Treaty Ceded Territories from the 1836 Treaty covers an area in a line from the Grand River to the Alpena area north and the eastern portion of the upper peninsula from the Chocolay River east. The majority (almost 55 percent) of the reservation's territory lies within several non-contiguous sections of land in eastern Suttons Bay Township in Leelanau County, Michigan. However, there are five other smaller parcels of land in four other counties: one plot in southern Benzonia Township, Benzie County; two plots in southern Helena Township, Antrim County; one plot in eastern Acme Township, Grand Traverse County; and one plot in southwestern Eveline Township, Charlevoix County. The total land area of the reservation and off-reservation trust land is 2.539 km² (0.9804 sq mi, or 627.46 acres (2.5392 km2). Its total 2000 census resident population was 545 persons, 80 percent of whom were of only Native American heritage. The present day, main Reservation and six-county service area consists of Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee counties. The Band's federal land base is approximately 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) dispersed throughout the service area with 3,985 members and 1,610 residing in the area.


  1. ^ Loraine Anderson "Tribe Elects New Chairman, Councilmembers" in Traverse City Record-Eagle May 25, 2012
  2. ^ article from Aug. 3, 2012 indicating that Bailey no longer is chairman of the Grand Traverse Band[dead link]
  3. ^ Carlson, Eric. Interview with New GTB Chair Derek Bailey. Turtle Talk. 22 Dec 2008 . Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  4. ^ Gerth, Ulrika G. "Company Report: Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos." Retail Digital. 1 Feb 2010 (retrieved 31 Aug 2010)

External links[edit]