In 1934, the United States Government passed The Indian Reorganization Act, which imposed a tribal council structure modeled after corporate boards. In doing so, they rejected indigenous governance and changed the Ojibwe history. In 1936, The United States Government accepted The Constitution of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, which then established it as a sovereign nation subject in law only to the federal government. The seat of its government operates at Tribal Center Building on Beartown Road, Baraga, MI. Today, KBIC is presently the county's leading employer. The Tribal Council, a duly elected official body that serves for three years, governs KBIC. Tribal elections are held annually in December, with reorganization taking place the following January. One-third of the council is up for election every year. In addition, the Tribal Council has established committees to oversee all of the elements of life within the Community.
The United States Government's Treaty of 1854 between and the indigenous Ojibwa (Chippewa) peoples of the Lake Superior region of Michigan established the Keweenaw Bay Reservation. This treaty, one of many (Treaty of 1836, Treaty of 1842), completed the transfer of land from the people who had been living on the ground within Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to the US Government. The overwhelming military might of the US Government, the discovery of copper in the Copper Country of Michigan, and the ever westward expansion of territorial expansion compelled the US Government to acquire these lands at the lowest prices. The grounds and rights ceded by the indigenous tribes reflected a defeated people. The history of the Ojibwa people reflects a chronic effort to stave off the encroachments of European civilization while at the same time seeking any advantage that European culture could offer.
KBIC enjoys a large tract of lands along Keweenaw Bay on Lake Superior and presently is developing some of this area into a recreation area. When you enter the Ojibwa Recreation Area, you enter a world of mature red pines and the main campground set in red pines. Electrical hookups and running water are available within this campground. The Ojibwa Recreation Area includes:
KBIC operates the Ojibwa Casino which is the premier destination in the Copper Country for gaming, dining, and entertainment.
KBIC operates the Ojibwa Casino Motel, which connects to the Casino and several restaurants.
The Motel has 40 units and includes two jacuzzi suites. The Motel also has an indoor pool with a whirlpool and offers a sauna. In addition to the Motel, the Casino also has an RV Park with water and sewer hookups. In addition, they provide Wi-Fi and picnic tables.
Within a mile of the Ojibwa Casino, Baraga State Park has many camping and RV sites. At the park is the beginning of an ATV trail with a parking area.
Experiences and Activities
As KBIC sits at the head of the Keweenaw Bay with its excellent fishing experience, visitors often wish to enjoy the excellent fishing opportunities. Two marinas are in the immediate area, along with boat ramps at both marinas. In addition, KBIC operates one of the marinas at the Ojibwa Campgrounds.
Also, at the far northern section of the Ojibwa Campgrounds is an excellent swimming beach, but there are no changing facilities if you are not camping.
Within the immediate area of the KBIC are multiple hiking trails, both easy to challenging. You can climb Mt. Arvon, the highest peak in Michigan, or walk the shores along the head of Keweenaw Bay. This shoreline also is a favorite for many people to picnic and swim.
The Community also holds annual pow-wows to maintain its cultural identity. In addition, the pow-wows provide social opportunities for Ojibwa peoples throughout the Lake Superior region to gather and retain their connectivity.
KBIC also operates their own radio station. Whey your driving through the Copper Country don't miss out tuning into Eagle Country 105.7
Tribal Community Today
Today, the Ojibwa people of KBIC strive to improve their living standards after nearly 150 years of enforced poverty. But, unfortunately, the nation of KBIC suffers from many problems. Still, the Community is slowly developing leaders and commits itself to education, better housing, child care development, care for the elderly, health care for every Native American on and off the reservation, employment opportunities, and countless projects all designed to encourage the Community to a higher standard of life.
Maintaining their rights resulting from the various treaties made with the US Government is a continuing legal battle. Some of these rights, such as fishing in Lake Superior or selling cigarettes without taxation, or their relationship with local government entities, are challenging for Tribal Leadership. Recently, voting difficulties arose out of an outdated Constitution imposed by the US Government.
The Tribe today is in the middle of working out these differences. They are also seeking Constitutional reform to reflect the realities of present-day existence. In addition, the ever-current difficulties of addictions that plague most Native American peoples throughout North America also confront the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. KBIC has responded by establishing a long-term residential treatment program in L'Anse, which addresses the needs of the local Native American population and serves as a resource for many tribes throughout Michigan and Wisconsin.
The Community remains committed with all of its resources to meet these needs and controversies. They have led the legal fight for many of their treaty rights, and have taken the lead in fighting for environmental protections throughout Baraga County and Copper County, and continue to seek ways to improve educational and employment opportunities.