The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is hoping help is on its way and that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will make — in the tribe’s eyes — a positive change and approve plans for a casino to be built off the tribe’s reservation.
It was just in June that Whitmer nixed the plans for a Fruitport casino, noting in her decision that her “hands were tied” due to the federal government’s Department of the Interior not issuing a decision on whether to accept the Grand River Bands’ petition — some 30 years in the making — to be federally recognized.
The land the Little River Band wants to build on would be Grand River Bands land, should the Department of the Interior approve their petition.
“Should the Grand River Bands obtain federal recognition, they may wish to open a gaming facility of their own in the same general area as the Little River Band’s proposed project,” Whitmer wrote in her decision.
The waiting game
The feds have kept extending the timeline to decide on the Grand River Bands petition, with February 2023 the next time they promise to have a ruling.
In the meantime, tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli of the Little River Band told MLive that the same Department of the Interior has told the tribe to resubmit its application for an off-site casino.
“The Department of Interior said, ‘Sure you can submit another package, and the timeline shouldn’t be as long — we know it has huge support from the community,’” Romanelli said, according to the site.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has spent nearly $30 million over the past 15 years in its efforts to build the proposed $180 million casino hotel.