2017-01-26 / Views

Tribal development leads to painful process

our opinion

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is working its way through questions that are being played out on a smaller scale across the Leelanau Peninsula.

Should the Tribe grow, and consume with that growth a little bit of itself?

Or by deciding not to grow, will the Tribe lose influence and put the livelihoods of its members in jeopardy?

The questions have become a major controversy in Peshawbestown, where a massive marina, hotel and casino complex have been proposed for several years.

The project would change the face of Peshawbestown and its beautiful — and largely undeveloped — West Grand Traverse Bay waterfront. No doubt it would be tastefully designed, but a project of that size will cast a dominating footprint.

We probably don’t need to say this, but we will for those unfamiliar with the Tribe. Heritage, and with that a love and protection of nature, are at the heart of Tribal existence. Tribal members are proud of the Band’s environmental record in the face of modern-day pressures to consume more and care less about impact.

The shoreline development was the cause of major turnover on the Tribal Council in the 2016 election. And it’s the root cause of a recall petition against Mark Wilson, the only Tribal councilor eligible for recall because he’s been in office for longer than a year.

Mr. Wilson says that growth is needed to keep the Tribe viable in a changing world. He cares about his community. He believes the development provides the key for Tribal economic vitality in the years and decades to come.

Those opposed to the development want to leave an undeveloped shoreline for future generations to enjoy. They also question whether money spent will return the benefits promised.

We are on the outside of this struggle, and have no say in its outcome. Being that the Tribe is both the regulator and investor of the development, much is at stake.

All of Leelanau County will be impacted by the outcome.

We wish that the process wasn’t so painful.

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