American Indian

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

This week, hear how high water in the Great Lakes is unearthing Native American burial sites. In some places along Lake Michigan, human remains have been discovered at the beach.

Also, more water isn’t the only reason the lakes are higher, a higher elevation that is. The Great Lakes are still rebounding from the last ice age.

 

And what’s in those holes in your garden?

 

    

 

A federal appeals court says a northern Michigan Indian tribe does not get to set its own labor rules at the casino it operates near Manistee.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians claimed tribal sovereignty allowed it to adopt its own laws that ban strikes and discourage union organizing by casino employees. The Teamsters challenged the tribal act, and the union won before the National Labor Relations Board.

But the Little River Band says the board has no jurisdiction in this instance.

The Urban Relocation Project after World War II created one of the largest movements of Indians in American history. The idea was to lure Native Americans to big cities, where jobs were supposedly plentiful.  

A new project will collect the stories of the urban Native American experience in West Michigan. It's called Gi-gikinomaage-min, which translates to "We Are All Teachers." 

Belinda Bardwell is with the Grand Valley State University Native American Advisory Board and a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Levi Rickert is also a member of the GVSU Native American Advisory Board. They joined us on Stateside today.

Bardwell and Rickert say project has some urgency because Native American communities are quickly losing elders, and it's important to preserve their stories and knowledge so younger generations can learn from their past.

Rickert says his grandparents moved to Grand Rapids for better opportunities, and in his family’s case, the move was positive. His sister graduated from the University of Michigan and became the first Native American dentist in the country. This is in contrast to his grandfather, who Rickert says had a fourth-grade education.

Bardwell says her mother experienced racism while growing up in Petoskey, and moved to Detroit before finally moving to Grand Rapids, where Bardwell was raised.

The public is invited to attend a campus dialogue on Wed., Nov. 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at GVSU's Allendale Campus. You can get details on the events calendar here

*Hear the full interview above.

Indian mission churches face financial pressures

Sep 8, 2014
Linda Stephan

More than a hundred years ago, Methodist missionaries set up Indian Mission churches in northern Michigan. The goal was to bring Christianity and to do-away with traditional American Indian belief.

Today the missions blend those traditions. But they serve small congregations that can’t afford to pay their pastors.

The United Methodist missions have survived with lots of financial help from the denomination, but now leaders say they have to scale back.

For one mission pastor, it feels like a broken promise.

Blending traditions

An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe has taken a major step toward building a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tuesday formally asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land surrounding Lansing’s downtown convention center into trust.

The tribe bought the land for a $245 million casino. But before the casino can be built, the federal government must first take the land into trust.

Tribal officials say the Interior Department could act on the request in a few weeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court says the State of Michigan has no right to sue an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe over a northern Michigan casino. The Bay Mills Indian Community opened an off-reservation casino in Vanderbilt back in 2010 without first getting permission from the state.

The split 5-4 decision could bring both sides to the bargaining table says Matthew Fletcher, an expert in Indigenous Law at Michigan State University.

Native Americans from northern Michigan are among civil rights leaders asking for an apology from the Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. In a profile in the New Yorker, Patterson compares Detroit to an Indian reservation with a fence around it.

From The Detroit Free Press:

A federal appeals court has lifted an injunction that was standing in the way of a casino in downtown Lansing.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Michigan’s Attorney General asked for and got a federal court to prevent the tribe from moving ahead with its plans. The attorney general says the tribe’s casino would violate agreements between the state and Michigan’s Native American tribes.

The human remains of 126 Native Americans are going home this week.

Over the course of the week, representatives of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe are retrieving the remains and associated funerary objects from the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and a Mount Pleasant State Police Post.

Shannon Martin is a member of the delegation and director of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. 

Matthew Fletcher / Indigenous Law & Policy Center at MSU College of Law

A faceoff between the state of Michigan and an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe over a proposed casino reached the U.S. Supreme Court Monday. The arguments were about whether tribes are immune from lawsuits for enterprises that take place off of reservation land. 

  The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that pits Michigan against an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe.

The case revolves around the tribe's plan to open an off-reservation casino.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today from D.C.

Listen to the full interview above.

Community Members Gather To Learn Native Language

Aug 13, 2013

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are in the midst of a three-day language and culture camp at the tribe’s Leelanau County Pow Wow grounds.

Tribes from Manistee to Harbor Springs and beyond are working to bring back the first language of the Great Lakes. Only two members of the Grand Traverse Band are fluent today. That’s, in part, because generations of Indian children were forced to attend English schools and leave their language and culture behind.

The nation’s highest court has agreed to decide whether the state can challenge a tribe’s right to open a casino in the northern Michigan town of Vanderbilt.

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case today, which will place it on the docket for the upcoming term.

The issue is whether state Attorney General Bill Schuette has the legal standing to challenge the casino. The Bay Mills Indian tribe says he does not – that the Vanderbilt property is part of the tribe’s independent territory purchased with money from a land settlement with the federal government.

It’s not clear whether the Obama Administration thinks a small Indian-run casino in Vanderbilt is legal, but the U.S. Solicitor General is clear that a case should not be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. That puts the federal government’s position at odds with the State of Michigan in the case.

At issue is whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to decide whether the casino has been built on “Indian lands.”

A referendum on wolf hunting in Michigan will be on the November 2014 ballot, but the vote will not stop a wolf hunting season in the Upper Peninsula scheduled for this fall.

Petitions to let voters decide whether the law should remain on the books were certified Wednesday by a state elections panel. The “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” ballot campaign says allowing the gray wolf to be hunted could return it to the endangered species list.

Same-Sex Couple Marries In Harbor Springs

Mar 18, 2013

Two men from Boyne City were the first same sex couple in Michigan to be legally married. The ceremony took place Friday, only minutes after the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians signed a statue to legalize gay marriage within the tribe.

The two men have been together 30 years. Newlywed Tim LaCroix is a member of the Odawa tribe. His spouse, Gene Barfield is not. Under their tribal marriage, Barfield will now get spousal benefits from the tribe.

A northern Michigan Indian tribe will recognize marriages among gay and lesbian couples. The chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Dexter McNamara, says he will sign a new marriage statute into law next Friday at his office in Harbor Springs.

“This is about people being happy,” McNamara said in the email announcement. He says denying same-sex marriage rights is discriminatory under an equal-protection clause found in the tribe’s constitution.

The tribe’s legislative body passed the marriage statute earlier this week in a split vote: five to four.

Harbor Springs Tribe Takes Step Toward Same-Sex Marriage

Mar 6, 2013

An Indian tribe in Harbor Springs could become the third tribe in the nation to recognize gay marriage. The governing council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians approved the proposal this week.

Even though Michigan's constitution bans same-sex marriage, native tribes have their own sovereign authority. 

Annette VanDeCar says tribal leaders are recognizing a long native tradition of honoring "two spirit people."

American Indian tribes of Michigan are part of a coalition that’s looking to reverse a new law that allows for a wolf-hunting season in the Upper Peninsula. The coalition, unveiled Tuesday, is trying to put a referendum on the 2014 ballot.

Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Sainte Marie (soo saynt MAH’-ree) Tribe of Chippewa Indians, says a wolf hunt would be an affront to tribal culture.

The U.S. Supreme Court made a move Monday that may indicate it’s interested in deciding the fate of a northern Michigan casino.

The Vanderbilt Casino was opened quietly by the Bay Mills Indian Community in 2010, and it was shuttered temporarily the next year by a federal court order.

The Upper Peninsula tribe maintains it has the right to open and run the off-reservation casino without permission from the state and in September the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the tribe.

Tribes Oppose Wolf Hunt

Sep 6, 2012

An animal that’s a symbol of the wild, and once nearly exterminated, has repopulated the upper Great Lakes region. In fact, the gray wolf exceeded recovery goals, times ten, over the last decade.

And now wolves are doing so well, states that manage them are opening hunting seasons on them. Some say there are just too many to coexist with people.

But a few Indian tribes argue that their treaty rights call for wolves to fill every niche in the landscape.

Matthew Fletcher / Indigenous Law & Policy Center at MSU College of Law

A small casino north of Gaylord is expected to remain closed for now, despite a legal victory today for the Vanderbilt Casino. It quietly opened back in 2010 and was shuttered by a federal court last year.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals says a lower court had no right to close the casino. Its owner, the Bay Mills Indian Community, was sued by the state and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Tribes Appeal To United Nations Over U.P. Mines

May 2, 2012

A tribe in the Upper Peninsula is appealing to the United Nations in an effort to restrain sulfide mining. The tribe hopes to strengthen its position through an international agreement signed by the Obama Administration.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community says mines that produce sulfuric acid can pollute the water and threaten places sacred to tribes in the Great Lakes. The Keweenaw tribe fought the Eagle Mine, a new copper and nickel mine under construction in Marquette County.

More bones have been found at another construction site on Mackinac Island.

Last fall, hundreds of human bones were unearthed during the excavation of the former McNally Cottage.

Now just a few bones have been discovered on the site of a remodel for a Main Street store. The island's police chief, Jeff Marks, says it's not yet clear they're human, but if they are he believes they're likely of Native American ancestry. That's based on where the site is located.

Challenges Ahead For A Proposed Lansing Casino

Jan 23, 2012

Leaders in Lansing have just made a big announcement, a partnership with an Upper Peninsula tribe that could bring a couple thousand permanent and temporary jobs to town. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million dollar casino with three-thousand slots and nearly 50 gaming tables - right downtown.

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