October 31, 2014

Purchased tribal land awaiting approval for trust status

Posted

STANDISH — Five parcels of land in Arenac County will become acquired “in trust” for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe next month, barring a public appeal.

The land, totaling 195.61 acres is in its final 30-day period for the general public to appeal.

A notice was sent out July 19 for the public to be informed of the decision and review it before the transfer of the title to the property occurs. The final agency determination to acquire the parcels was handled by the Superintendent of the Michigan Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and U.S. Department of the Interior.

The five parcels of land are connected to land that is already reservation land.

Realty Officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Esther Thompson said the land was purchased from homeowners or businesses and has been held in the tribe’s name for several years.

“This is just expanding land base,” Thompson said. “The purchased land is connected to land that the tribe already owns.”

Thompson said the tribe issued the decision to the state, county and township governments and this is the final process. She said the development of the trust by the United States would benefit the tribe.

“The land would fall under federal jurisdiction,” she said. “With the land “in trust” the tribe will have more ability to apply for federal grants.”

She said the trust does not make the purchased land reservation land. She said that is a different procedure.

“Right now the land is held in fee status and is taxable,” she said.

Thompson said the trust status would make it so that tax rules would not apply and if someone appeals, the trust process stops.

“(The trust) then goes before the Board of Indian Appeals in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Public Relations Director Frank Cloutier said although this time period allows for public response, the appeal process is very expensive.

“This land gives us a larger footing for cultural activities,” he said.

Cloutier said the tribe has a commitment to growing the tribal community.

“The master plan for this land is to support community growth,” he said.

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