Category Archives: Native American

Changes to tribal agreement could mean fewer Native American mascots

native americansThe amendment will put money into a new Michigan Native American Heritage Fund. The fund is run by a board that will send the money to private and public schools that want to, “promote positive relationships with and understanding of the history and role of Michigan’s Indian tribes,” the tribe said in a press release.
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Isabella county women travel to Standing Rock

For much of 2016, people from around the country gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline being built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

In December, it appeared the standoff between protesters and law enforcement had come to an end. The U-S Army Corps of Engineers denied the oil company the permit it needed to build in the area.

Some protesters however, are refusing to pack up and go home. They say they don’t trust Dakota Access Pipeline and don’t believe this is the end of the ordeal…Among the skeptical are two Mount Pleasant residents. They recently  returned from a holiday visit to Standing Rock. Sarah Adams spoke with them shortly before they left.

Jennie Jones and Lauren Richards have been collecting supplies for over a month to take to the protesters in North Dakota. Richards says the recent turn of events hasn’t changed a thing in her mind. Richards and Jones have packed their cars with supplies to help get the protesters through the winter…things like food, cold weather sleeping bags and small propane heaters.

Richards says since she posted about the trip on social media, donations of supplies and money have been coming in from all over. “People have been so generous….we’ve received some items personally from people who just know us and wanted to hand stuff off. A lot of monetary donations that’s been really helpful so we’re able to purchase some other supplies”.

Richards says even though officials like Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman have asked protesters to go home, friends in North Dakota are telling her the protest is far from over.  “We were a little concerned at first thinking we wouldn’t be welcomed or needed and that was going to be ok if that was the case however we do have a friend named John who has been out there a couple of times now. I just spoke to him a few days ago and he said they still need people and he’s connected with a lot of the tribal leaders and elders and he’s getting firsthand information. So we trust him. We trust what he says”

 Jennie Jones says she and Richards are preparing the best they can based on what they’re being told and what they’ve seen in media coverage.”It looks really cold and blizzard, a lot of wind so I’m expecting first of all, the cold, intense cold”.

 Adams: “As someone living in Michigan, why is something happening in North Dakota important to you?”  

Jones:  “Because we’re all connected. I think that’s something that people are starting to understand and realize if they haven’t yet. We really are very all connected. If we want to see things change, we need to be the ones to do it. We can no longer just sit back and watch things pass us by. It’s not the time for that. I feel really strongly in my heart that Standing Rock is the beginning of many, many, many more things and instances where people will have the opportunity to stand up and be heard. I feel people from all over the country banding together and wanting to help in some way and this is what’s happening and so it’s important to do because of that and because we can no longer be silent.”

Jones and Richards tell me future trips to help the protesters will happen if they are needed.



The city of Mount Pleasant is proclaiming Columbus Day, also as Indigenous Peoples Day

file0001762182018Some communities across the state refer to Columbus Day also as Indigenous Peoples Day. One of the communities is Mount Pleasant.

The city says it’s a move to recognize the history of indigenous people and the culture they bring to the community.

Nancy Ridley is the Mt Pleasant City Manager.

“Certainly the history that they bring to our community and the culture that is a part of our community as a result of it, it brings great diversity to our community.”

Ridley says Indigenous People’s Day doesn’t replace Columbus Day, it is in addition to it.

She says the Mt Pleasant Mayor will read the proclamation recognizing the day at a city council meeting this evening. Members of the Saginaw Chippewa indian tribe.will be on hand to accept the recognition and perform a ceremonial dance

Rally calls for shutdown of Line 5 pipeline

IMG_0610Roughly 100 attended a rally held by The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Monday in in Saint Ignace to bring awareness to the dangers of the Enbridge pipeline under the straits.

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Saginaw Chippewa tribal members travel to support North Dakota pipeline protesters

Courtesy NPR

Courtesy NPR

Over the last few weeks, protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota have gained national attention. Native Americans from around the country have gathered to block construction of an oil pipeline they say would disturb sacred lands and burial grounds.

Members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in central Michigan were among those who joined the protest.  Autumn (Ellie) Mitchell was a member of the group who traveled to North Dakota earlier this month. She spoke with Amy  Robinson

(Mitchell) I could see history happening and this gathering of tribes and I just I just felt the need to go. I didn’t even question it was just I was going to go.

(Robinson) Explain why this is important to the culture

(MItchell) Because water is life. That is the motto of the camp and there’s potential disaster from oil spills and this pipeline is going to, I mean it could affect the Missouri River and many many people drink from the Missouri River, that flows into the Mississippi. That is a big issue and you know water’s a big issue for all people

Anishinaabe believe women are the keepers of the water and protectors of the water. So it was just important to be there into standing in unity with other tribes, other nations.

(Robinson) What was the feeling being in that group of people

(MItchell) When we walked in the camp, I felt like we had gone back in time and we were in the village before the reservation era like it was amazing feeling. If you had actually you brought it up to the donation tent and if you needed something you went up there and got it. I was helping sort clothes for part of the afternoon and people were coming up who had come with nothing but the clothes on their back and we were just helping them find shirts and shoes and socks and doing what we could. I mean I grew up on the reservation in a tribe, I have a pretty strong sense of community, but that was intense even for me.

(Robinson) How much good do you think it’s doing to have this group of people and, not only of course the core group, but so many coming from outside to to support?

(Mitchell) This action, I think it’s really good for Indian country  That we’re putting aside our tribal affiliations and coming together and having this peaceful, prayerful there was so much ceremony going on there and it felt so sacred. I think it’s a good experience for youth especially with all the struggles that we have that they can see that in that unity.

(Robinson) And so we have another chapter in American history of a group of determined, united people trying to protest actions of a large corporation. You know how do you think it’s going to end?

(Mitchell) I hope it ends in favor of the people. When I was there I heard that those who started the protests and started the camp saw, the spirits told them when they had ceremonies, that if they stayed peaceful they would win.

(Robinson) Do you have plans to go back, or hopes to go back?

(Mitchell) I would like to go back, but I think I can do more for the cause staying at home and supporting the people who are out there. Making donations and getting the word out and trying to help with the larger issue that is environmental issues and dependence on oil and tribal sovereignty.

(Robinson ) This also has really put Native Americans in the native culture on the national stage.

(Mitchell) I think it’s it’s good for people to see us as still existing and still being here and still being active and not living in the past or living in the modern stereotypes of alcoholics with no jobs. That’s not who we are.

(Robinson ) What kind of movement is there locally to support this larger effort?

(Mitchell) One of the men who traveled with us is going back and we’ve been trying to send him with supplies. They’re digging in for a winter and need cold weather gear.


Tribe and state government reach a partial agreement

file5761274152311A Native American tribe in west Michigan has agreed to share revenue from its casino with the state as part of a dispute over online Lottery games. The Gun Lake tribe says the state broke a treaty when it started online lottery games. As a result, the tribe stopped half of its revenue sharing payments. Instead of sending the usual payments to the state, the tribe put them in an escrow account that will now be divided between the two.
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Native American health bill removing IRS oversight passes US House


A bill removing a waiting period for Native Americans to add to their health savings accounts has passed through the US House.

Right now, Native Americans must wait three months after receiving care at an Indian health clinic before contributing to a health savings account. Continue reading

Indigenous people feel their concerns about pipelines fall on deaf ears

TranscanadaA Canadian oil company is suing the American government for denying the Keystone XL pipeline.

Aldo Seoane is the Co-founder of the Wicaheli League, and an advocate for indigenous peoples rights.

Seoane said while the legal issues are being handled in court, there is a voice going unheard.
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Sault tribe receives $300K for education programs

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians recently received over a quarter million dollars from the federal government to bolster their education programs. Continue reading

Odawa Indians and DNR band together to restore Sturgeon fishery

Picture of a sturgeon.  Courtesy of the DNR.

Picture of a sturgeon. Courtesy of the DNR.

The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians has collaborated with the Department of Natural Resources to examine the Sturgeon fishery in the Tip of the Mitt.

Burt Lake in Cheboygan county is known for having a historically strong Sturgeon fishery. However, in recent years, overfishing has had a significant impact on the fish population.
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Commerce Secretary meets with northern Michigan tribes

official_photo_secretary_penny_pritzkerUnited States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker recently came to Michigan to learn more about the unique economic opportunities and challenges facing Native American communities.

She was in Brimley at Bay Mills Community College when she called and spoke with CMU Public Radio’s David Nicholas.
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