Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 8, 2009

Derek Bailey: Cooperation is key

I am excited and optimistic in thinking about my predictions for the area and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians for the next 150 years.

Clearly, we live in one of the most beautiful areas of Mother Earth.

The GTB Tribal Nation has grown exponentially as an area and tribe over the last 29 years. We must now sustain and channel that growth into positive effects not only for tribal membership, but the community at-large.

Our concerns must be those that modify sprawl development, put sustainable energy in force and increase cooperative efforts between the Grand Traverse Band, State of Michigan and local governments to enhance our nation-to-nation relationship. We must increase youth educational goals and achievements and provide employment opportunities in both the tribal area and local area.

We have made great strides over the last 29 years in increasing healthcare benefits to Grand Traverse tribal members and others. That must continue and grow. Further, we must continue to promote understanding of tribal sovereignty with local, state and federal governments.

GTB will continue to exist in 2159; however, the governance structure will change substantially. The stability of Indian nations within United States law will be recognized by a constitutional amendment that incorporates tribes as a third sovereign under the U.S. Constitution. This change in the constitutional status of the Grand Traverse Band as an Indian nation will provide a further foundation in federal law for tribes to be treated in a constitutional manner similar to states.

Derek Bailey is the fifth seated tribal chairman, and youngest, since the Grand Traverse Band was federally reaffirmed on May 27, 1980. He and his wife, Tonia, have five children and live in Leelanau County. He received a master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in 1998.