Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBOI) is a federally recognized Native American tribe of Odawa. A large percentage of the more than 4000 tribal members continue to reside within the tribe's traditional homelands on the northwestern shores of the state of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. The historically delineated reservation area, located at 45°21′12″N 84°58′41″W / 45.35333°N 84.97806°W, encompasses approximately 336 square miles (870 km2) of land in Charlevoix and Emmet counties. The largest communities within the reservation boundaries are Harbor Springs (formerly known as L'arbre Croche in the French colonial era), where the tribal offices are located; Petoskey, where the Tribe operates the Odawa Casino Resort; and Charlevoix.

It is one of three federally recognized tribes of Odawa people in Michigan, who total more than 9,000 people. The others are the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. Other bands with federal status include the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma and several First Nations in Ontario, Canada.

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
LTBB Odawa family
1800s Odawa family, Little Traverse Bay Bands
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Charlevoix and Emmet counties, Michigan, United States
Ojibwe (Ottawa dialect), English
Related ethnic groups
Ottawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi and other Algonquian peoples


The name Odawa, or Ottawa, is said to derive from the Anishnaabe term for "trader." On one European record, it was mistakenly associated with an Odawa phrase meaning "people of the bulrush," which applied to only one band along the Ottawa River.

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa tribal members are descendants of, and legally recognized political successors to, the Ottawa of L'Arbre Croche, who were signatory parties to the 1836 Treaty of Washington and one of the three 1855 Treaties of Detroit. The treaties ratified the Odawa cession to the United States of approximately 37% of Michigan's current land area in exchange for money, reservations, and other benefits.

But the 1855 treaty allocated 80-acre plots of land to individual tribal households, dissolving the tribal governments. It created an artificial group known as the Ottawa and Chippewa Nation, including some Chippewa (Ojibwe) peoples, which was allotted some reserves.[1] Many of the annuities and supplies promised to the Nation by the federal government under this treaty were never delivered. (The Little Traverse Bay tribe has found the annuity rolls, dating from 1836 to 1871, useful as a source for documenting direct-line descent from tribal members, for persons seeking to qualify as member/citizen.)

"In 1905 the Michigan Ottawa successfully sued the United States in the Court of Claims for redress for fraud and treaty violations."[1] But the bands across Michigan continued to try to recover their tribal status. In the 20th century, the tribes organized, working to respond to the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Indian New Deal - the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which encouraged Native Americans to reorganize their tribal governments. But the Michigan Ottawa were prohibited from organizing under this act.[1]

In Michigan, three main groups organizing through the 1930s and 1940s were the Michigan Indian Defense Association (1933), the Michigan Indian Foundation (1941), and the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association (NMOA) (1948). The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa was known as the NMOA, Unit 1, as there were other bands represented in this group. NMOA, Unit 1 filed a civil suit to gain protected fishing rights under its 19th-century treaty, arguing that it had not given up fishing rights when ceding control over its lands. The federal courts refused to recognize NMOA Unit 1 as a tribe because they were an organization.[2]

Heartened by the success of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in gaining federal recognition in 1980, the Little Traverse bands reorganized again. Their members passed a constitution and set up a government, taking the name 'Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.' A federal court still denied the tribe treaty fishing rights, saying that it was not federally recognized so had no status under the treaties.

Given its well-documented treaty relations of its historic bands with the federal government, the Little Traverse Bay tribe began to pursue legislative reaffirmation of its tribal status. On September 21, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law Senate Bill 1357, which reaffirmed the United States' political relationship with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (and with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which was also recognized).[3][4]

The tribe is made up of descendants of nine bands of Odawak who traditionally lived in this area: 1) North Shore (Naubinway west to Escanaba); 2) the Beaver Islands; 3) Cross Village; 4) Burt Lake; 5) Good Heart (Middle Village); 6) Harbor Springs; 7) Petoskey; 8) Bay Shore; and 9) Charlevoix.

Most tribal members continue to live in the area of their traditional homeland. The historically delineated reservation area, located at 45°21′12″N 84°58′41″W / 45.35333°N 84.97806°W, encompasses approximately 336 square miles (870 km2) of land in Charlevoix and Emmet counties. The largest communities within the reservation boundaries are Harbor Springs, where the tribal offices are located; Petoskey, where the Tribe owns and operates the Odawa Casino Resort; and Charlevoix.


While Odawa, a dialect of the Ojibwe language, is the first language of some tribal members, the majority primarily speak English. As part of language revitalization efforts, the Tribe "promotes the preservation and revitalization of Anishinaabe language and Anishinaabe culture" through a variety of ways, including summer language camps, language classes offered at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey, and community language classes. The Gijigowi Anishinaabemowin Language Department assists with language education from its headquarters in Harbor Springs.[5]

Tribal government

As part of seeking federal recognition, the tribe adopted a constitution establishing elected, representative government. It elected seven members to a Tribal Council, which had all authority for governance, including establishing rules for membership.

Prior to 2005, all governmental authority was vested in a seven-member Tribal Council. In 2005, the LTBBOI amended its tribal constitution to adopt a separation of powers model. It established three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Under this system, the Tribal Council exercises the legislative powers; the Chairman, Vice Chairman and appointed Boards exercise the executive powers; and a tribal court system exercises the judicial powers.

  • Tribal Chairman: Regina Gasco-Bentley
  • Vice Chairman: Stella Kay

Prompted by a request from two tribal citizens, in 2012 the Council began consideration of a constitutional amendment regarding marriage, to replace "one man and one woman" with language including gay and lesbian couples.[6] On March 3, 2013, the Tribal Council voted 5 to 4 in favor of the measure, sending it to Chairman Dexter McNamara for signature or veto. At the time, only two other federally recognized tribes, the Coquille Tribe and the Suquamish Tribe, officially acknowledged the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.[7]


The tribe determines citizenship. It is primarily based on an individual having at least 1/4 North American Indian ancestry and direct descent from an individual listed on the Durant Roll (1907-1910) or the Annuity Rolls of Ottawa and Chippewa of Michigan, from 1836 to 1871, and referenced by the 1850 through 1920 censuses as residing within the boundaries of the reservation. In recognition that the Odawa and other indigenous peoples have had their own territories that are now divided by the border of the United States and Canada, they require that citizens have at least 1/4 North American Indian ancestry, in addition to direct descent from individuals listed on the tribal records described above. They do not accept persons who are enrolled in other tribes. Various other qualifications are noted in the Tribal Code describing these rules. The tribe makes special allowances to encourage the awarding of citizenship to Native Americans who were adopted out as children to non-native families, in order to embrace them within the tribe and restore them to Native American citizenship.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Lee Sultzman, "Ottawa History", Tolatsga website
  2. ^ A Tribal History of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
  3. ^ Senate Bill 1357, The Political Guide
  4. ^ Cramer, Renee Ann (2005). Cash, Color, and Colonialism: The Politics of Tribal Acknowledgment, p. 44. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3671-5.
  5. ^ "LTBB". Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  6. ^ "Tribe may recognize gay marriage". Traverse City Record-Eagle. March 21, 2012.
  7. ^ "Little Traverse Bay Bands could become 3rd tribe in nation to allow gay marriage". Petosky News-Review. March 5, 2013.
  8. ^ "TITLE II. CITIZENSHIP, TRIBAL ENROLLMENT/ Chapter 1. Enrollment for Citizenship Statute", Tribal Code, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, October 2015

External links

Andrew Blackbird

Andrew Jackson Blackbird (c. 1814 – 17 September 1908) was an Odawa (Ottawa) tribe leader and historian. He was author of the 1887 book, History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan.

Anishinaabe tribal political organizations

A Tribal Political Organization is a political tribal council advocating the political interests of the First Nations and Tribes of their constituency. This list focuses on the TPOs to which the various Anishinaabe nations belong.

Caelynn Miller-Keyes

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Emmet County, Michigan

Emmet County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 32,694. The county seat is Petoskey.Emmet County is located at the top of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, bounded on the west by Lake Michigan and on the north by the Straits of Mackinac. Its rural areas are habitat for several endangered species. Long a center of occupation by the Odawa people, today the county is the base for the federally recognized Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

The county was created by the Michigan Legislature in April 1840, from Mackinac County. It was first named Tonedagana County and renamed Emmet County effective March 8, 1843. Emmet County remained attached to Mackinac County for administrative purposes until county government was organized in 1853. "Emmet" refers to the Irish nationalist Robert Emmet, who in 1803 was tried and executed for high treason against the British king for leading a rebellion in Dublin.

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe located in northwest Michigan. Sam McClellan is the current tribal chairman, elected in June 2016 to a four-year term after succeeding Al Pedwaydon, who served from 2012 to 2016. The tribal offices are in Peshawbestown, Michigan. As of September 2018, the current GTB Tribal Council consists of: Chairman Sam McClellan, Vice-Chair Kimberly Vargo, Treasurer Jane Rohl, Secretary Tina A. Frankenberger, Councilor David Arroyo, Councilor Brian S. Napon, and Councilor Mark L. Wilson. The tribe owns and operates the Leelanau Sands Casino, the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, and the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

It is one of three federally recognized tribes of Odawa peoples in Michigan. The others are the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, both recognized in 1994.

Harbor Springs, Michigan

Harbor Springs is a city and resort community in Emmet County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,194 at the 2010 census.

Harbor Springs is in a sheltered bay on the north shore of the Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. The Little Traverse Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse on the Harbor Point peninsula, which shelters the deepest natural harbor on the Great Lakes. M-119 connects with US 31 7 miles (11 km) east and south at Bay View, and Petoskey, which is 4 miles (6.4 km) away on the south side of the harbor.

The area is known for its historic summer resorts, such as Wequetonsing, which was founded by Illinois businessmen and lawyers Henry Stryker, III, and Henry Brigham McClure. They were both connected with the Jacob Bunn industrial dynasty of Illinois.

Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands

Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes and First Nation bands residing in or originating from a cultural area encompassing the northeastern and Midwest United States and southeastern Canada. It is part of a broader grouping known as the Eastern Woodlands. The Northeastern Woodlands is divided into three major areas: the Coastal, Saint Lawrence Lowlands, and Great Lakes-Riverine zones.The Coastal area includes the Atlantic Provinces in Canada, the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, south until North Carolina. The Saint Lawrence Lowlands area includes parts of Southern Ontario, upstate New York, much of the Saint Lawrence River area, and Susquehanna Valley. The Great Lakes-Riverine area includes the remaining inland areas of the northeast, home to Central Algonquian and Siouan speakers.The Great Lakes region are sometimes considered a distinct cultural region, due to the large concentration of tribes in the area. The Northeastern Woodlands region is bound by the Subarctic to the north, the Great Plains to the west, and the Southeastern Woodlands to the south.

List of federally recognized tribes

This is a list of federally recognized tribes in the contiguous United States of America. There are also federally recognized Alaska Native tribes. As of 29 January 2018, 573 Native American tribes were legally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of the United States. Of these, 231 are located in Alaska.

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe of the Odawa people in the United States. It is based in Manistee and Mason counties in northwest Michigan. It was recognized on September 21, 1994.

It is one of three federally recognized tribes of Odawa people in Michigan. The others are the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Other bands with federal status include the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma and several First Nations in Ontario, Canada. They historically spoke the Odawa language, a dialect of Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), but use of this language has declined.

Little Traverse

Little Traverse may refer to:

In the U.S. state of Michigan:

Little Traverse Bay

Little Traverse Township, MichiganThere is also:

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Little Traverse Light, a lighthouse

Little Traverse Bay

Little Traverse Bay is a small bay, 170 feet (55 m) deep, off Lake Michigan in the northern area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The cities of Harbor Springs and Petoskey are located on this bay.

Harbor Springs originated as L'arbre de Croche, a French Jesuit mission village to serve the Odawa people bands in the area. After the British took over the territory, the village was renamed in English. The federally recognized Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians have their headquarters here. They have land here, and additional land and a gaming casino in Petoskey.

The Little Traverse Light marks the entrance at Harbor Springs to the smaller harbor within the bay.After the Odawa bands in northern Michigan were persuaded to cede considerable lands to the United States, the Little Traverse Bay region was developed by Illinois land developers and resort founders, such as lawyers Henry Stryker, III and Henry Brigham McClure, and the Capps family of Jacksonville, Illinois and woolen mills fame. The Stryker, Capps, and McClure families were interconnected with the Jacob Bunn industrial dynasty of Chicago and Springfield, Illinois.

The bay has also been used as a refuge by Great Lakes freighters during severe weather.

McGulpin Point Light

McGulpin Point Light was constructed as a navigational aid through the Straits of Mackinac. The light began operation in 1869, making it one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the Straits. The light is located on McGulpin Point, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Fort Michilimackinac.


The Odawa (also Ottawa or Odaawaa ), said to mean "traders", are an Indigenous American ethnic group who primarily inhabit land in the northern United States and southern Canada. They have long had territory that crosses the current border between the two countries, and they are federally recognized as Native American tribes in the United States and have numerous recognized First Nations bands in Canada. They are one of the Anishinaabeg, related to but distinct from the Ojibwe and Potawatomi peoples.After migrating from the East Coast in ancient times, they settled on Manitoulin Island, near the northern shores of Lake Huron, and the Bruce Peninsula in the present-day province of Ontario, Canada. They considered this their original homeland. After the 17th century, they also settled along the Ottawa River, and in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as through the Midwest south of the Great Lakes in the latter country. In the 21st century, there are approximately 15,000 Odawa living in Ontario, and Michigan and Oklahoma (former Indian Territory, United States).

The Ottawa dialect is part of the Algonquian language family. This large family has numerous smaller tribal groups or "bands," commonly called "Tribe" in the United States and "First Nation" in Canada. Their language is considered a divergent dialect of Ojibwe, characterized by frequent syncope.

Odawa Casino Resort

Odawa Casino Resort is a Northern Michigan casino resort. Located in Resort Township near Petoskey, Michigan, the casino opened for business on June 20, 2007. It is owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The resort replaced Victories Casino in 2007, which had served as the tribe's casino until the new resort was opened. In addition to gaming, Odawa Casino Resort features multiple restaurants and retail outlets, a concert venue (Ovation Hall), a nightclub (The O Zone Nightclub), and a circular lounge bar in the middle of the gaming floor (Rendezvous). The resort also includes a AAA Diamond rated Hotel. Full shuttle transportation is available to all resort guests. Odawa Casino Resort is open to guests of all ages, however, the casino's gaming floor and the O Zone Nightclub are restricted to those of age 21 and older. Starting in 2011, the minimum gaming age at Odawa Casino Resort has been approved to be lowered to 19 years old.

Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma

The Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma is one of four federally-recognized Native American tribes of Odawa people in the United States. Its ancestors had migrated into Michigan and Ohio in the 18th century. In the late 1830s they were removed to west of the Mississippi River, first to Iowa, then to Kansas in what was then Indian Territory. In 1867 they sold their land to purchase territory in what became Oklahoma, then primarily settled by Native Americans.

The other three tribes are located in the state of Michigan, part of the traditional Odawa territory. They are the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. In addition, there are First Nations of Odawa people in Ontario, Canada, including on Manitoulin Island, their original homeland.

Same-sex marriage under United States tribal jurisdictions

The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage in the states and most territories did not legalize same-sex marriage on Indian reservations. In the United States, Congress (not the federal courts) has legal authority over tribal reservations. Thus, unless Congress passes a law regarding same-sex marriage that is applicable to tribal governments, federally recognized American Indian tribes have the legal right to form their own marriage laws. As such, the individual laws of the various United States federally recognized Native American tribes may set limits on same-sex marriage under their jurisdictions.

Many federally recognized tribal jurisdictions do not have their own courts, relying instead on CFR courts under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In such cases, same-sex marriage is legal under federal law. Others do have their own courts and legal codes but do not have separate marriage laws or licensing, relying instead on state law. Of those that do have their own legislation, most have no special regulation for marriages between people of the same sex or gender, and many accept as valid marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Many Native American belief systems include the two-spirit descriptor for gender variant individuals and accept two-spirited individuals as valid members of their tribes, though such traditional values are seldom reflected explicitly in the legal code. Same-sex marriage is possible in at least forty-two tribes, beginning with the Coquille Indian Tribe (Oregon) in 2009. Marriages performed in these tribes were first recognized by the Federal Government in 2013 after section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was declared unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor.

At least a dozen Tribes specifically prohibit same-sex marriage and do not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Treaty of Detroit (1855)

The Treaty of Detroit of 1855 was a treaty between the United States Government and the Ottawa and Chippewa Nations of Indians of Michigan. The treaty contained provisions to allot individual tracts of land to Native people consisting of 40-acre (16 ha) plots for single individuals and 80-acre (32 ha) plots for families, outlined specific tracts which were assigned to the various bands and provided for the severance of the government consolidation of the Ottawa and Chippewa.

Waunetta McClellan Dominic

Waunetta McClellan Dominic (23 July 1921 – 21 December 1981) was an Odawa rights activist who spent her career advocating for the United States government to adhere to its treaty obligations to Native Americans. She was one of the founders of the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association and her influence was widely recognized, especially after winning a 1971 claim against the government for compensation under 19th century treaties. She was also a proponent of Native American fishing rights being protected. In 1979, she was named by The Detroit News as "Michiganian of the Year" and in 1996, she was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.


Wawatam (little goose) (fl. 1762 – 1764) was an 18th-century Odawa chief who lived in the northern region of present-day Michigan's Lower Peninsula in an area along the Lake Michigan shoreline known by the Odawa as Waganawkezee (it is bent).

Federally recognized
State recognized
Municipalities and communities of Charlevoix County, Michigan, United States
Civil townships
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Municipalities and communities of Emmet County, Michigan, United States
Civil township
Ghost towns
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