The Gamechangers, Part 4: The 1980s bring tribal victory, a new chapter for local libraries
Known for their bright colors, adventurous fashion choices, voluminous hair, massive blockbuster movies, and energetic new wave music, the 1980s are, culturally, one of the decades most often caricatured. of American history. If you were alive to see Traverse City in the 1980s, you likely encountered many of these iconic trends alongside the rest of the nation.
But the ’80s also saw its fair share of groundbreaking local steps that transcended any pop cultural moment, from the founding of the still-running Bay Area Transit Authority (BATA) in 1985; to the closing of the state hospital in 1989 – which eventually paved the way for what we know today as Grand Traverse Commons.
What were the most pivotal events of the 1980s for local history books? Keep reading to find out.
1980: The Grand Traverse Band obtains federal recognition
Any review of the area’s history would be incomplete without acknowledging that the community is located on lands first settled by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and the Chippewa Indians (GTB). Long before the area became part of Michigan, it was home to the Anishinaabek, described on the GTB website as a wealthy and respected Indigenous nation with trade routes that stretched “as far east as the Atlantic Ocean, as far west as the Rocky Mountains. , as far north as northern Canada and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
Centuries of warfare and lopsided treaties have gradually stripped the Anishinaabek of their lands and federal recognition as an indigenous tribe and nation. 1980 was the year the GTB regained this recognition.
Before and immediately after the Revolutionary War, the Anishinaabek Nation occupied the northwest portion of what would become Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, as well as the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula. In 1836, however, the federal government approached the native tribes with a treaty. By signing this document, called the Washington Treaty, the tribes ceded two-thirds of the land that is now Michigan to the federal government. In turn, the treaty was intended to protect the right of the tribes to continue to use the land, including for hunting, fishing, and gathering.
A second treaty, the 1855 Treaty of Paris, required the tribes to cede “the remaining third of what is now Michigan” to the federal government. “When this treaty was signed, a reservation was established which comprised most of County Leelanau and a large tract of land in County Antrim,” notes GTB’s historical account. (Pictured, top left, is a map of the reservation lands outlined in the 1855 treaty.)
Despite these agreements, the GTB has long maintained that the US government reneged on the Treaty of Paris by selling approximately 87,000 acres of reservation land to logging companies and non-native settlers without ever fairly compensating the tribe. In the 40 years since the treaty, the tribe has lost virtually all of the reservation lands promised by the 1855 treaty. GTB is still seeking “just compensation” for these lands from the federal government.
GTB also “was without any federal or state assistance for a period shortly after the 1855 treaty until 1980”, due to the fact that the Bureau of Indian Affairs “erroneously determined that the tribe had been suppressed by signing the treaty”.
The tribe attempted several times during the 20th century to restore federal recognition under the Indian Reorganization Act – first in 1934, then again in 1943. Both of these requests were denied by the federal government . It wasn’t until 1978 that the tribe began to gain traction with its efforts to restore its status as a federally recognized Indigenous nation. On May 27, 1980, the federal government finally recognized the GTB, allowing the tribe to write a constitution, form a government, and more.
In 1983, GTB established an economic development corporation with the goal of starting and operating its own businesses. The most significant of these ventures was launched the following year, when the tribe opened the doors to the first incarnation of Leelanau Sands Casino.
At the time, Michigan law still banned almost all types of gambling, but native tribes were beginning to challenge the idea that the state had the right to enforce these prohibitions on sovereign tribal nations. On July 4, 1984, the Bay Mills Indian community – a tribe from the Upper Peninsula – became the first Native nation in Michigan to open a casino. Soon after, GTB established Super Bingo Palace and Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown, and casino gaming in northern Lower Michigan entered the races for the first time. Leelanau Sands took up residence in its current building (pictured, top right) in May 1991.
1982: Birth of TADL
By the 1980s, northern Michigan was already home to a multitude of well-established libraries. The Traverse City Library, for example, had operated in the Carnegie Building on Sixth Street since 1904 (pictured, bottom left). Yet, it wasn’t until 1982 that the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) system we know today was officially formed.
TADL came into existence through a joint resolution of the Town of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County. This resolution established a federated library system that included not only the Traverse City Public Library, but also the libraries in Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, and on the Old Mission Peninsula. In 1983, voters ratified the creation of TADL and approved an operational mileage to support district-wide library services.
It is through the mileage-funded operational structure established for TADL in the 1980s that Traverse City has its current main library building on Woodmere Avenue. In 1996, voters in Grand Traverse County approved a ballot measure that opened two key doors for the library system. First, voters authorized a $1.1 million tax levy, which would pay for the operations of all TADL libraries for the next 20 years. Second, voters agreed to issue up to $8.5 million in bonds to cover the cost of a brand new library building. At the time, TADL was outgrowing the 16,000 square foot Carnegie Building and needed space to expand. The bond of $8.5 million made it possible to move forward.
TADL opened the Woodmere branch (pictured, bottom right) in May 1997, and construction was finally completed in late 1998. The opening gala was held on January 9, 1999, officially launching a new chapter for TADL.
In 2019, when the main branch celebrated its 20th anniversary, The ticker learned that the library has more than 68,000 active cardholders, more than 388,000 physical items in its collection, and a history of lending an average of 1.2 million items to local patrons each year. These numbers represented a library triple the size and impact of what TADL was able to accomplish when the Traverse City District Library was housed in the Carnegie Building.
TADL continues to mark new milestones in 2022, including the adoption of an all-new strategic plan and the upcoming launch of a long-awaited bookmobile.