Mirada Ranch Sees Granholm Opinion as 'Disastrous' For Landowners Throughout Michigan

April 19, 2002

DETROIT, /PRNewswire/ -- A spokesperson for Mirada Ranch on South Fox Island, made the following statement regarding Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm's decision that the South Fox Island land exchange cannot proceed because of Native American land title claims:

"The Attorney General's opinion is deeply flawed. She seems to think that this opinion concerns a few small parcels of land on an island in Lake Michigan. What she seems not to understand are the implications of this decision on thousands of landowners in Michigan who are not even aware that the title to their cottages, homes and vacation properties could be affected. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians filed an affidavit claiming that the Band may have a potential claim on a small part of South Fox Island. The Attorney General determined that the existence of the affidavit makes the land unmarketable, even though the title to the land is insured by a title company. It is chilling for private property owners in Michigan to realize that a Native American tribe may have potential but unasserted claims on their property that can render their title unmarketable.

"It is un-American to require someone to prove that they are innocent of the charges leveled against them, in this case by the Indian tribes. This opinion says that we have to do something that the Indians haven't been able to do themselves, which is prove a quiet title in court. Most people buying property in Michigan do not ask themselves 'did this once belong to the Indians and can they file a potential claim against this property?' when they are evaluating the purchase. With this opinion, the Attorney General has opened Pandora's Box by questioning the marketability of thousands of property owners, most of whom do not realize they are in the same boat as Mirada Ranch.

"The Attorney General has indicated that if the problems, as she sees them, can be resolved, the land exchange can proceed. She is asking the private property owner to disprove the allegations made by the Band, at our expense, which is an approach that will take many years and inflict crushing financial and practical burdens.

"This opinion is not about one individual property owner and an isolated case of an Indian claim. Indians have reserved hundreds of potential claims on property throughout Michigan. Therefore, Michigan property owners throughout the state should be extremely alarmed at this far-reaching and inaccurate opinion. Everyone who owns land in Michigan may have to defend themselves against unfounded claims on their property if it is allowed to stand."

Source: Mirada Ranch


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

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