Things are heating up in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The purchase of a hotel in Baraga was approved, there are reports that it will be used for the relocation of the current Ojibwa casino. But officials within the KBIC say not so fast.
Last weekend, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community voted to approve the purchase of the Baraga Lakeside Inn on U.S. 41, as well as the adjacent marina. Since it involved spending more than $10,000, just under three million dollars to be exact, the tribal members are required to approve the purchase.
“First time since 1936 since our constitution was formed that we want to give the people a say in their government of any purchase that we make,” Shalifoe said.
Last year, the KBIC tried to build a casino in Marquette but the state stepped in and did not allow it. But with this property being located on tribal land, the tribe can now do as they please. So is it time to start packing away the cards and chips at the Ojibwa casino?
KBIC President Donald Shalifoe says not exactly. “The resolution says for the purpose of moving the Ojibwa casino to the Baraga Lakeside but that doesn’t have any effect right now until the people vote on it,” said Shalifoe.
Shalifoe says the location is perfect because the traffic from U.S. 41 brings in a lot of people to that area. But he adds that plans of relocation are nonexistent without a vote from the people.
“I believe that question is going to be asked to the council. It will come up to a vote and if we vote to move the casino to the Baraga Lakeside Inn, we’ll bring that up to a vote of a popular referendum to the people,” said Shalifoe.
Shalifoe says he is well aware that this is a very large purchase. But he strongly believes this can be very beneficial to the economy of the tribal community.