KBIC council mulls reservation signage

BARAGA – The four main entries into the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community reservation will soon have large signs indicating the boundaries of the property at those points, according to KBIC council secretary Susan LaFernier.

During the regular meeting of the KBIC Tribal Council Saturday at the Ojibwa Casino Resort, LaFernier said work on the sign project is moving along.

“I am pleased to announce we have some preliminary draft signs, and they’re coming along very well,” she said.

LaFernier said there are several designs the sign project group is considering, and they include clan animals and various plants.

The signs also have text on them, and LaFernier said there was a process to decide what to write so drivers could take it in while driving by the signs.

“We changed the wording through the month,” she said. “We don’t want it to be too busy, because you won’t be able to read it then.”

LaFernier said the four main signs would be placed at M-38, on U.S. 41 near Carla’s Lake Shore Motel & Restaurant, on U.S. 41 near Tony’s Steak House in L’Anse and at the Skanee Road entrance in L’Anse.

The suggested designs were presented to council members for their consideration.

“We want to finally get approval for these,” she said.

Once a design for the signs is chosen, LaFernier said someone has to be found to make them.

“We still don’t have a company to do the signs,” she said.

LaFernier suggested possibly a tribal member could make the signs.

There will be five smaller signs to be placed in various places around the reservation, also, LaFernier said.

During his report to council members, President Chris Swartz said he signed an agreement with the United States Geological Survey for the new Rio Tinto copper and nickel mine in Michigamme Township.

“We respectfully asked them to consider funding the water-monitoring program for the Eagle Mine,” he said.

Swartz said he met recently with Congressman Dan Benishek and talked about various subjects, including the possible move of the casino to the former Marquette County airport, the proposed KBIC gasoline station in Marquette and the tribe’s opposition to the Eagle Mine.

“He said he would like us to change our minds on the mine,” Swartz said.

However, Swartz said he expressed the tribe’s concern about the possible contamination of ground water.

“We know the Eagle Mine can have zero discharge, but they won’t do it because of the cost associated with zero discharge,” he said.

No agreement was reached with Benishek as a result of the meeting, Swartz said.

“At the end of it, we agreed to disagree,” he said.

Swartz said he also spoke with representatives of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about the DNR plan to allow some hunting of the gray wolf in the state.

“The community is opposed to the hunting of our brother, and we will continue to oppose any sport hunting of the wolf,” he said.

During her secretary report to the council, LaFernier said she met with Michigan House of Representatives Democratic leader, Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet to talk about tribal issues, and she thought it was a positive meeting.

“I was glad I had the opportunity to meet with them,” she said. “They both listened, and asked questions regarding our concerns.”

In other business, council members:

heard from KBIC CEO Larry Denomie III about changes to the employee Blue Cross/Blue Shield program, which will include a slight increase in the prescription drug plan.

heard a request for a donation for fireworks from Baraga County Lumberjack Days Committee member Gayle Isaacson. Members approved an $8,000 donation.

heard from KBIC Recreation Committee member Evelyn Ravindran about the effort to amend committee by-laws, and the progress of work on the tribal five-year recreation plan, which she said is at the point where council input is needed.