BURT LAKE, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians can reapply for federal recognition, and tribal authorities have until next week to respond.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of the American Indian band in Michigan, calling the Department of the Interior’s ban on re-petitioning “arbitrary and capricious.”

Jackson gave the Bureau of Indian Affairs — which has refused to recognize the Burt Lake Band — 60 days to respond to her decision, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

Burt Lake Band Tribal Chairman Bruce Hamlin said he’s optimistic the band can succeed in its long quest for recognition of its tribal sovereignty.

“This is one light at the end of a very, very long tunnel,” Hamlin said.

Michigan's Ottawa and Chippewa bands ceded 7 million acres of land to white settlers in exchange for reservation land and annual payments under the 1836 Treaty of Washington. The Burt Lake Band — then called the Cheboiganning Band — was given 1,000 acres along the western shore of Burt Lake in Cheboygan County.

In October 1900, a posse led by a sheriff and land speculator torched the band's village, leaving 25 families homeless. The band sued the state in 1914 for the return of its land, but lost.

Since then, the band has sought recognition of its sovereignty. BIA rejected the band's petition in 2006, arguing members had married into other bands and there were gaps in their paperwork.

Attorney and former congressman Bart Stupak sued on behalf of Burt Lake, saying the small band — with 323 members — should have the chance to appeal.

“For tribes or bands that had a reservation, they’d recognize you,” Stupak said. “That’s the most egregious part. Burt Lake’s reserve was purchased and paid for twice and was stolen from them. Everyone agrees on that. You’d think people would want to correct it.”