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Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

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Title: Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Same-sex marriage in the United States, Same-sex marriage under United States tribal jurisdictions, Same-sex union legislation, Odawa, Anishinaabe
Collection: Anishinaabe Groups, Native American Tribes in Michigan, Odawa, Ojibwe Governments
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

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

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBOI) is a federally recognized Native American tribe of Odawa Indians. 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 , 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 operates the Odawa Casino Resort, and Charlevoix.


  • History 1
  • Language 2
  • Tribal Government 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The name Odawa, or Ottawa, allegedly derives either from the Anishnaabe term "trader" or a truncated version of an Odawa phrase meaning "people of the bulrush". Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa tribal members are descendants of, and political successors to, the Ottawa of L'abre Croche who were signatory parties to the Treaty of Washington and one of the three 1855 Treaties of Detroit. The treaties ratified the cession of approximately 37% of Michigan's current land area in exchange for money, reservations, and other benefits. Many of the provisions the federal government promised did not materialize, so the tribes began to organize to sue the federal government to recover negotiated-for entitlements.

Three main groups organized political efforts in order to make the federal government aware of its treaty obligations to the Odawa. They were the Michigan Indian Defense Association, the Michigan Indian Foundation, and the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association (NMOA). Prior to 1982, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa was known as the NMOA, Unit 1. The latter of these groups began to file for fishing rights, but the federal courts refused to recognize NMOA Unit 1 as a tribe because they were an organization.[1]

In 1982, the tribe reorganized and took the name Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, but a federal court denied the tribe its rights because it was not federally recognized. The tribe began to pursue legislative reaffirmation on the basis of treaty relations with the federal government. On September 21, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law Senate Bill 1357 that reaffirmed the United States' political relationship with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (along with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians).[2][3]


While Odawa, a dialect of the Ojibwe language, is the dominant language of some tribal members, the majority primarily speak English. As part of language revitalization efforts, the Tribe sponsors summer language camps, language classes are offered at the local college in Petoskey, and free classes can easily be found in the area. Additionally, students at Harbor Springs High School can elect Anishnaabomiwen courses as part of their high school curriculum.[4]

Tribal Government

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 that divides governmental authority among 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: Fred Kiogima
  • Vice Chairman:Deb DeLeon

Prompted by a request from two tribal citizens, in 2012 the Council began consideration of a constitutional amendment regarding marriage, replacing "one man and one woman" with language including gay and lesbian couples.[5] 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 tribes, the Coquille Tribe and the Suquamish Tribe, observed the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.[6]


  1. ^ A Tribal History of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians 
  2. ^ Senate Bill 1357
  3. ^ Cramer, Renee Ann (2005). Cash, Color, and Colonialism: The Politics of Tribal Acknowledgment, p. 44. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3671-5.
  4. ^ Rohn, Christina (16 January 2008). "Odawa language course makes its way into Harbor Springs’ curriculum". Petoskey News-Review. 
  5. ^ "Tribe may recognize gay marriage". Traverse City Record-Eagle. March 21, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Little Traverse Bay Bands could become 3rd tribe in nation to allow gay marriage". Petosky News-Review. March 5, 2013. 

External links

  • Official tribal site
  • Odawa Casino Resort
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