Tag Archives: Native American

Scholar to discuss Native American’s effect on pop culture

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan.

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan.


In most areas of America, Native American Indian tribes were the first settlers, and to this day, Natives remain central to the American identity.

Scholar Philip Deloria is scheduled to visit the Alma College campus to discuss, “American Indians in the American Popular Imagination. He is a professor with the American Studies department at the University of Michigan.

Kristin Olbertson, an Associate Professor of History at Alma College, said Deloria will be able to trigger his audience in a way that others cannot.

“He’s going to take the familiar and make it unfamiliar to us,” she said. “I think that’s really the mark of a great speaker and a great scholar who can make what we think we know and think what we understand, and show us that there is more to understand and more to think about.”

One of Deloria’s books, Playing Indian, uses several modern examples of how Indian culture influences American culture today. Those include the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls.

“White people, white Americans or people who identify themselves as white would dress as indians,” Olbertson said. “That’s what he means by ‘Playing Indian,’ sort of adopting elements of Indian appearance, culture or character for really specific and political purposes. Not all of which, even the people adopting these disguises, totally understand.”

Olbertson said that Deloria uses those instances to question why society attempts to replicate Native American culture.

The presentation is scheduled for Thu., Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Swanson Academic Center on the Alma College campus.

Admission is free and open to the public.

SCOTUS asked to sort through casino confusion

gavel2 11-13-13A faceoff between the state of Michigan and an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe over a proposed casino reached the US Supreme Court. The court is being asked to decide the limits of tribal sovereignty when a tribe attempts to set up a casino or some other business outside a reservation.

Specifically, the issue is whether Michigan and other states can ask a federal court to block a casino that violates their regulations. The Bay Mills tribe says they can’t because Congress never passed a federal law to allow it. It says the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act only covers casinos on tribal land.

Justice Antonin Scalia had some sharp questions on that point.

“You really think Congress would want to regulate gaming on Indian land, but not off Indian land? “ he asked. “Why would anyone do that?”

Bay Mills’ attorney Neal Katyal said the court should not second-guess why Congress does or does not act on an issue.

“There’s lots of different ways to deal with this question,” he said. “The last thing this court should do is change the rules of the game in respect to tribal immunity.”

And some justices were interested in why Michigan didn’t use arbitration allowed by a gaming treaty, or its police authority instead of challenging tribes’ sovereign immunity power in federal court.

“I’m not sure why you’re here,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said to Michigan Solicitor General Sonia Sotomayer.

Everyone agreed that the now-shuttered casino in Vanderbilt – 100 miles from the official home of the Bay Mills Indian Community – violates Michigan’s gaming laws, and the state could go in and arrest tribal officials, employees, even customers. Bursch says that’s the sort of confrontation Michigan wants to avoid by using the federal court’s civil authority.

“If we absolutely had to, the state would probably have to send in the armed State Police and start arresting people, but we want to avoid that at all costs because we want to be respectful as possible to the tribe.”

Bursch says if the state loses, tribes from anywhere could set up enterprises that violate state laws. He used under-aged drinking, prostitution, and polluting industries as potential examples.

Bursch says that’s why states like Michigan rely on federal courts to resolve these sorts of conflicts.

“It’s really like a zero-sum game,” he said. “Anytime that you give another sovereign the ability to operate illegally on lands that are under the state’s exclusive jurisdiction and not allow the state to have its full array of remedies, you’ve taken away some of that state’s sovereignty, and that’s a very serious thing.”

The case is being widely watched. Seventeen states have joined together to file supporting briefs in the case. So have 65 tribes concerned that immunity for all kinds of off-reservation enterprises is at stake depending on how the Supreme Court rules.

The decision could also affect plans for proposed tribal casinos in Lansing, Flint, and Port Huron.

The court’s decision should come down next year.

CMU celebrates Native American Heritage throughout November

SaginawlogoNative American heritage month runs through November at Central Michigan University. Several events have been planned throughout the month to inform and educate attendees on Native American culture.
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