Island Returned to Grand Portage Band

Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy

GRAND PORTAGE, Minn. – The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and The Nature Conservancy announced Tuesday that Susie Island on Lake Superior has been returned to the tribe.

The 142-acre island is the largest of 13 small, rocky islands near where the Pigeon River empties into Lake Superior in the northeast corner of Minnesota.

The Nature Conservancy and the Grand Portage Band agreed Susi Island should be maintained in its natural state. In January 2016, the process to return the island to the tribe was initiated by the Grand Portage Reservation Tribal Council.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs recently agreed to the Band’s request that Susie Island be placed into trust status on its behalf. As a result, Susie Island will continue to be managed by the Grand Portage Band.

Susie Island and other islands in the archipelago sustain a unique plant community that is cooler and wetter than on the mainland. Many of the plants are typically found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

“The Band really appreciates the role The Nature Conservancy played in restoring Susie Island to Band ownership,” said Grand Portage Chairman Norman Deschampe. “The Conservancy recognized that it could help our people accomplish a long-term goal and, at the same time, ensure that islands will be protected. It was the right thing to do for many reasons.”

The Grand Portage Band has reacquired more than 95 percent of its original lands.

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