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Soo Tribe purchases Marquette-area real estate

By VICKIE FEE

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Sault. Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians recently purchased two Marquette-area buildings to expand gatherings and services for tribal members who live in the area, according to Tyler LaPlaunt, vice chairman of tribe.

The tribe reports a membership of around 40,000 members worldwide. But, 1,200 members of the Soo Tribe live within a four mile radius of Marquette.

“This doesn’t include Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and other tribes, or Soo Tribe members living in the Negaunee and Ishpeming areas,” LaPlaunt said.

The tribe recently closed on the purchase of the 16,000-square-foot former U.S. Army Reserve building on Cherry Creek Road in Harvey and celebrated with a picnic on the five-acre grounds surrounding it two weeks ago. LaPlaunt said about 150 people turned out throughout the day. The day started with a welcome song.

The sizable building will be used for large gatherings and as a community space. The tribe drum group will meet there on the second and fourth Thursday each month at 5:30 p.m.

LaPlaunt said the tribe plans to renovate and refresh one of the Harvey buildings to bring it up to code, as well as update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. It also will update the commercial kitchen and work with the Marquette County Health Department to make sure it meets code requirements for a commercial kitchen.

LaPlaunt said he hopes the tribe can start work within the next six months.

“We have a sealed bids process, so it depends on the contractor and their schedule.” he said.

After renovation the Harvey location will be open to weddings, funerals and bridal showers.

“A place for Soo Tribe people to gather,” he said.

The tribe has also procured the former Southgate Center on Front Street in south Marquette, next door to McCabe’s Flooring and across the street from Huron Bakery.

This space needs significant work and will be remodeled and turned into a space for health services, LaPlaunt said.

He said he expects work on the the Southgate facility will go out for bids soon.

Once the work on the Harvey location is complete, the tribe will plan a ceremony to celebrate its opening and announce a name for it at that time, according to LaPlaunt.

Vickie Fee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext 542. Her email address is vfee@miningjournal.net

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