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Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Acquires Over 700 Acres of Land in Baraga County.

The land, which is within KBIC’s 1842 reservation boundaries, had been purchased by TNC in 2021.

Forest canopy against a blue sky.

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BARAGA, Mich. — The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) today announced they have assumed ownership of 760 acres of forestland in Baraga County from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The land, which is within KBIC’s 1842 reservation boundaries, had been purchased by TNC in 2021 from a longtime local owner. The deed transferring the land to KBIC was officially signed during a KBIC Tribal Council Meeting on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

“KBIC is dedicated to the long-term protection of natural resources, healthy ecosystems, and preservation of our traditions and culture for the generations to come, so all may flourish and thrive. We recognize the importance of working together with like-minded co-stewards to achieve goals across man-made boundaries and look to developing and strengthening partnerships to realize our vision,” said Evelyn Ravindran, Natural Resources Director for KBIC. “Over the years, TNC has welcomed KBIC’s input and involvement in the Keweenaw Heartlands Project and has expressed interest in other collaborations including wildlife monitoring and wild rice restoration. The relationship between KBIC and TNC has grown organically, as both entities place great value on conserving our lands and waters in support of strong, resilient natural and human communities.”

“With the goal of making significant land purchases to help the world reverse climate change and biodiversity loss, TNC worked diligently on a Slate River Forest land purchase. These lands were carefully managed for generations and contain not only healthy forests, rich in biodiversity but portions of the beautiful Slate River. TNC has committed to the continuance of good stewardship of these lands which are open for the enjoyment of the whole community and is inclusive on decision making with co-stewards,” Ravindran said. “In addition, TNC has shown their understanding, commitment to, and respect for tribal sovereignty with the transfer of lands within the L’Anse Indian Reservation exterior boundaries to KBIC. We are honored by their trust in us as fellow caretakers of these lands and it is with great pleasure and a grateful heart that I say ‘Chi-miigwetch’ to our esteemed allies.”

“Supporting Indigenous and local communities in stewarding their environment and shaping their future is vital for both people and nature. We are honored to make this contribution to KBIC’s future success by transferring this land to them,” said Helen Taylor, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. “KBIC members have been stewards of the land for generations, and their cultural teachings signify and honor the connection between people, wildlife, and the natural world around us. Working toward shared, durable conservation outcomes is a powerful principle that is needed now more than ever as we confront unprecedented environmental challenges.”

KBIC call themselves the Anishinaabe, and are part of the three fires confederacy, a group of culturally related Indigenous Peoples in the Great Lakes region, who have nurtured their ecosystem through traditional practices and protocols.

The Anishinaabe are Michigan’s first people, and KBIC members continue to honor their ancestor’s way of life.

TNC understands that to tackle the impacts of climate change and protect biodiversity, it is important to respect and employ different knowledge systems and approaches to the natural world, which includes Indigenous knowledge.

The land KBIC is assuming ownership of is adjacent to TNC’s 9,760-acre Slate River Forest Reserve. The reserve, purchased in 2021, is managed as a working forest, demonstrating good stewardship practices that sequester carbon and sustain the vitality, diversity and productivity of the forest. The area is considered one of the highest-quality managed native forests in the Upper Peninsula, and protects several streams flowing directly to Lake Superior, including almost four miles of the Slate River.

About Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) is a federally recognized Tribe and is signatory to the Treaties with the Chippewa of 1842 and 1854. Established under the Treaty of 1854, the primary land base of the KBIC is the L'Anse Indian Reservation. The L'Anse Indian Reservation consists of approximately 59,000 acres and services members within the boundaries of the reservation in Baraga County, as well as members in Marquette, Ontonagon and Houghton counties. KBIC currently has over 3,500 enrolled members.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on X.