Updated:
Original:

Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, Minnesota

Author:

About 200 people attended a deed ceremony Dec. 14 as the Grand Portage State Park was given back to the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, making the 300-acre parcel of land that includes the state's highest waterfall in the only state park not owned by the state. When the land was put up for sale more than a decade ago, a nonprofit parks organization bought it, and a coalition of Indian and public agencies helped convert it into Grand Portage State Park in 1994. The band lost the land long ago in a tax forfeiture. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the band signed an agreement giving the property to the BIA to be held in trust for the band. The band will lease the land, which lies within its reservation, back to the DNR for a dollar year as a state park. "I think this is one of those things that's a win-win for everybody," said Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe. "It ended up being a state park and it helps Grand Portage. We have our people employed there." The band lost the property more than a half-century ago, and it was owned privately until what is now the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota bought it in 1988. All along the objective was to sell the land to the state and convert it into a state park, an approach approved by the Legislature in 1989.