In 2014, ILCC provided a loan to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians to purchase a 311-acre farm adjacent to the traditional boundaries of its reservation near Petoskey, Mich. Now known as Ziibimijwang Farm – “Place of the Flowing River” – the land is being redeveloped by the Tribe as a certified organic farm to support the subsistence and nutritional needs of tribal members, as well as a potential source of income.
The property, which includes approximately 170 acres of forest and 90 acres of cropland, will be used for sustainable community gardens which are certified organic. Excess production will likely be sold using a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. The land is also being used for cultural events and educational programs. John Keshick III is an Odawa Tribal Council member and member of the Tribe’s Agricultural Workgroup: “To me, this farm is such a positive thing, something to get us healthy again,” he said in an interview with Northern Express magazine. “Before the land secession treaties of 1836 and 1855, the Odawa Tribe was self-sufficient, growing our own food, supporting and maintaining ourselves. In 1870, there were still 185 families running working farms here, growing garden vegetables, corn, barley, and wheat.”
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, or Ottawa people, lived in this geographical area of Michigan long before European settlement. Eventually their lands were taken and the Tribe lost its federal status. The Tribe reorganized in 1982, and in 1994 it regained federal recognition. Today, the Tribe has more than 4,000 members and its historic reservation area encompasses approximately 336 square miles.