HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 26Issue 20Michigan State Representative Introduces Resolution Reaffirming Tribal Sovereignty

State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) introduced a resolution on Wednesday, May 20, reaffirming tribal sovereignty.  The resolution was introduced in response to actions taken by Attorney General Dana Nessel regarding the previously announced planned opening of Island Resort and Casino in northern Michigan, operated by the Hannahville Indian Community.  Island Resort had announced they planned to open on May 6.  In a letter sent to the Hannahville Indian Community on May 5, while Ms. Nessel acknowledged that tribal authorities have sovereignty, she also threatened to issue civil and criminal penalties to casino employees and patrons who worked or visited the casino.  As a result of the letter, Island Resorts scrapped plans to reopen.  The action highlighted the growing tension between the administration and tribal operators.   

HR 257, which can be found here, resolved “That we reaffirm the sovereignty of tribal nations and encourage the Michigan Attorney General to not infringe on that sovereignty.”  In a press release announcing the introduction of the resolution, Rep. LaFave indicated: ““While an argument can be made to prohibit certain business operations that cannot be executed safely in light of COVID-19, the state of Michigan does not have the authority to dictate the actions of tribal nations – pandemic or not.  Tribal nations have the right to self-governance, and these rights cannot be infringed upon. The attorney general’s threatening remarks are not how diplomatic relations with Michigan’s tribal nations should be conducted.”  The resolution has yet to pass the House.



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