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Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians of Michigan

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The battle continues over a proposed land swap on South Fox Island in northern Lake Michigan, a remote jewel, a historic stopover point for American Indians traveling by water, and an important hunting and gathering site. The Grand Traverse tribe says some of its members have unresolved claims to parcels that Detroit developer David V. Johnson proposes to give to the state of Michigan. A coalition of the tribe, sporting groups and environmentalists accuse the Department of Natural Resources of favoritism toward Johnson because he is a leading contributor to the governor and other Republicans. The agency said its policy is based on merits, not politics. Both sides are making their case with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, previous owners of sections of the island. Their approval is needed under conditions imposed when the state procured the property. In October, Congress prohibited any South Fox land swap without its approval. The order was attached to a budget bill and thus is in effect only during the current year unless extended. Johnson insists he has no plans for commercial development but that could change if the land swap doesn't happen.

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