Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Tribal Background

Shared Governance brochure cover



Brochure: Shared Governance and Stewardship:
Rights and Responsibilities of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community - Since time immemorial





(from DRAFT Tribal Environmental Agreement 2013 - 2015, U.S. EPA Region 5 & Keweenaw Bay Indian Community)

KBIC is a signatory to the Treaty of 1842 and the Treaty of 1854. The Treaty of 1854 established Reservation land bases which include the L'Anse and Ontonagon Indian Reservations. The primary land base is the L'Anse Indian Reservation, located in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the shores of the Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior. The L'Anse Indian Reservation consists of approximately 59,000 acres. There are approximately 19 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, 3,000 acres of wetlands, and 80 miles of rivers within five watersheds that are either wholly or partially within the L'Anse Reservation boundaries. The Village of Baraga and community of Zeba both lie entirely within the Reservation boundaries, while the Village of L'Anse lies partially within the Reservation. The Ontonagon Indian Reservation is located in Ontonagon County along the Lake Superior shoreline, is approximately 3,000 acres in size, has about 2 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, and includes three watersheds partially within Reservation boundaries. KBIC also administers approximately 200 acres of land holdings and housing in Marquette County. The L'Anse Indian Reservation and the Ontonagon Reservation exterior boundaries are formally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The KBIC constitution and bylaws were approved on December 17, 1936 and a corporate charter was ratified on July 17, 1937, pursuant to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The legislative body consists of a 12-member Tribal Council with six elected representatives from two voting districts. There are approximately 1,100 enrolled Tribal members, some residing within the L'Anse Reservation boundaries, or in Baraga County. Approximately 36% of land holdings are owned by KBIC, with the remaining 64% owned by individual Tribal and non-Tribal members, local governments, or area businesses.

Ceded territories covering the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern portions of Wisconsin and Minnesota were defined by the Treaties of 1842 and 1854. KBIC retains hunting, fishing, gathering, and other rights within these ceded territories, and tribal members and government staff exercise these rights for subsistence, spiritual, cultural, management, and recreational purposes.​

KBIC has an established Natural Resources Department (NRD) which includes natural resource, fisheries, wildlife, and environmental programs under the direction of the Natural Resources Director, who in turn takes direction from the Chief Executive Officer and the Tribal Council. The department currently consists of seventeen full time employees and is responsible for assisting KBIC with protection, preservation, enhancement, and mitigation of natural resources and the environment, an obligation which it fulfills through a variety of programs. Funding for the Natural Resource Department is provided by KBIC, EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indian Health Service (IHS), Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other sources.

The Tribe has a Strategic Plan which is based on community values, identified during an intensive tribal community planning process, that include strong families, sovereignty, tradition/culture, employment/business, health care/good health, education, environment, youth, elders, safety, and government/leadership. Within the Environment Section, the vision for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is:

  • The waters of Lake Superior, inland lakes and streams are the cleanest in the world

  • The Reservation is clean and free of blight and litter

  • People from all walks of life come and enjoy the beauty of our Reservation

  • The Reservation has a land use plan to assist in development

  • Manage our forests for sustainability and profit

  • Honor our traditions and culture through the preservation of our homelands

Eight goal statements are provided for in the Environment Section of the Strategic Plan with associated benchmarks and measures to assist the community with meeting the above vision statements. Goals are provided for protection, preservation, mitigation, and enhancement of the natural resources and environment of KBIC through programs, management planning, baseline data collection, ordinance development, forestry program development, alternative energy development and use, water and sewer infrastructure, and active participation and partnerships.

In 2003, an Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP) was adopted by the Tribal Council and subsequently approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This IRMP includes goals and benchmarks for the highest priority resources as identified by the Tribal membership. We will continue to use this IRMP as a guidance document for our priorities and activities. The vision of the IRMP is “To live in harmony while enhancing and sustaining the resources of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community for the Seventh Generation.”