Michigan: Muskegon Tribe still awaiting state casino approval

May 12, 2023
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Gov Gretchen Whitmer persists on not giving the Tribe her approval for their casino.

In June 2022, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declined to approve the Tribe's casino proposal; her approval is needed for the casino to go ahead in Muskegon.

The Little River Band has claimed to have spent almost 14 years and over $30m on a proposed casino and hotel.

The plan for the casino is not on the Little River Band’s reservation and so needs state and federal approvals. Federal approval came in December 2020. However, due to the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians being a mix of three Tribes, there have reportedly been questions over the validity of the Tribe.

The Grand River Bands did not meet one of seven mandatory criteria for being federally recognized, according to the proposed finding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As per the preliminary finding, the criteria is that the members comprise a “distinct community that has existed as a community through time.” 

Instead, the Bureau stated that the Tribe “was formed recently by the merging of several different groups” and that those groups previously “acted independently, each with its own separate leadership, membership and activities.”

The proposed casino has received support from the community; particularly from nearby businesses who would benefit from the casino and its customers.

The Tribe claims that its new casino and hotel would create 3,000 jobs; 1,500 construction jobs and 1,500 full-time employees. In addition, the casino would contribute an estimated $10m in annual revenue to the state.

Ron Yob, Chair of the Grand River Bands, said in a prepared statement, “The US Department of Interior has continuously reached out to support our efforts and we have been compiling documentation that shows our long history as a distinct political community.”


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