native americans

Today on Stateside

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A new organization in Ypsilanti that promotes cancer awareness for Native Americans is struggling to stay afloat.

Shoshana Beth Phillips is executive director of Heritage of Healing. It incorporates native traditions and activities into its services, and supports families with a parent dealing with cancer. (Phillips is originally from the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer seven years ago.) 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The remains of dozens of Native Americans were buried during a special ceremony near Mt. Pleasant today.    

The remains had until recently been held by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

Several women shook small rattles as a long line of men and women carried small cardboard boxes containing the remains of 129 Native Americans to a small snow-covered cemetery.    The cemetery has become the final resting place for many Native Americans whose remains were used in research. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture

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. 

Ever wanted to learn Ojibwe? Well, there’s an app for that.

The Ojibwe, also known as Anishinaabe people, make up one of the largest groups of Native Americans in the United States, with many living here in Michigan.

Darrick Baxter, president of Ogoki Learning Systems, helped design this free app that could go a long way towards keeping the Ojibwe language alive. 

Here's a video showing how the app works:

Listen to full interview above. 

Prescription-free emergency contraception is supposed to be available over-the-counter, across the country, for women of all ages.

But, for some, where you live matters. On today's show we found out about the uneven access to Plan B in Native American communities.

And the Yankee Air Museum has been given more time as it tries to save part of an historic factory. Will the Willow Run bomber plant be saved?

And we met a woman using graffiti in a very unique way.

Have you heard “The Michigan Poem?” We spoke to the Kalamazoo performance duo who wrote it.

Also, we took a look at child passenger safety laws and how to keep kids safe during car rides.

First on the show, we turned to Detroit's Mayoral election. Voters in Michigan's largest city will head to the polls one week from tomorrow.

Within that race for Mayor  is the issue of race. There is a white candidate: Mike Duggan - former Detroit Medical Center CEO, and a black candidate: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

As part of the Detroit Free Press' endorsement of a Mayoral candidate, our next guest penned yesterday's column in the Freep about the complex role that race is playing in this election.

Stephen Henderson is the Editorial Page Editor for the Detroit Free Press, and he joined us today.

Flickr user meddygarnet / Flickr

There are 12 recognized Native American tribes in Michigan- some 130,000 Native Americans who live throughout our state.

Michigan has the largest population of Native Americans east of the Mississippi.

And in that community---as well as across the nation -- one of the most urgent women's health issues has been access to emergency contraception.

For most American women, it takes a trip to the drug store and anywhere from $30-65 to get the so-called "morning after pill," also known as Plan B.

The dilemma for women who go to Indian Health Services facilities: they have no retail pharmacies, so American Indian and Alaska Native women who needed emergency contraception would have to deal with emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, and that usually adds up to long wait times.

And when you learn the frequency of sexual assault against Native American women, it becomes very clear why this issue is so important.

Although the Federal Government has given a verbal directive to Indian Health Services to give women over age 17 free access to Plan B, there's concern that this is not being evenly handled.

Charon Asetoyer is the founder and Executive Director of the Native American Community Board and the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center located on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota.

She joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has announced that Matt Wesaw will be the new Executive Board Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Wesaw will be the first Native American to lead MDCR. He has chosen to retire as Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and President and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority to take this position. In the past, he was a Michigan state police trooper, and a director for the Michigan State Police Troopers Association. He also served on the Commission of Indian Affairs and won the Native American Financial Officers Association's Tribal Leader of the Year award in 2012.

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights over schools’ use of American Indian mascots.

The civil rights department had argued that the images hurt Native American students’ academic performance, and create an unequal learning environment.

But federal education officials say opponents of Indian mascots and logos need to prove that they create a hostile environment for Native American students.

Wikipedia

This week marks an important event in the history of Michigan and the history of Native American tribes here in the Midwest.

250 years ago this week, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa called a council of tribes. The purpose of the council was to figure out how to drive out the English settlers and army from the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions.

Hundreds of Native Americans came to Chief Pontiac's council on the banks of the Ecorse River in what is now Council Point Park in Lincoln Park.

Many are familiar with the name Chief Pontiac because of the city in Oakland County that bears his name and the now-discontinued GM car line.

We wanted to learn more about the significance of Chief Pontiac and this Council that he led on April 27th, 1763.

Ben Hinmon, is the Cultural Instructor of the Seventh Generation Program of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe in Mount Pleasant. Hinmon is the Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson of Chief Pontiac.

Today he takes us back to what was happening during this council meeting in 1763 and he talks about the legacy of Chief Pontiac.

This weekend there will be a traditional Pow-Wow at Council Point Park in Lincoln Park.  The Lincoln Park Historical Society and Museum, American Indian Movement of Michigan, and others are holding the free events, which also include a car show of classic Pontiacs at 5 p.m. Thursday, and a concert by singer-songwriter Bill Miller at 6 p.m. Friday.

You can listen to the full audio above.

On today's show: We've been alloped by wet weather. We get an update from West Michigan on the cleanup of the flooded Grand River.

And, we find out just what's behind a new ranking that says Grand Rapids is one of the tops places in the nation to find a job.

Later in the hour, on this 250th anniversary of his historic council of tribes, we learn just who Chief Pontiac was. We talk with his great, great, great, great grandson.

First on today's show, Michigan State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) formally announced legislation today that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Just what would House Bill 4623 mean for Michigan? Representative Jeff Irwin explains.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The law is designed to make sure Native American children in the child welfare system stay connected with their tribes.  

The court's decision will affect Michigan, as the state recently passed a stronger version of Indian Child Welfare Act.

I produced a story on these laws and the people they affect for State of Opportunity.

You can listen to the full version here.

And for those with limited time, here are three important points to know about this story:

  • Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act 35 years ago to put a stop to private and state workers taking Indian children away from their homes and tribes often with little reason other than a desire to assimilate them to white and Christian culture. Many families in Michigan are still dealing with the effects of this, including Judge Alli Greenleaf Maldonado who tells her personal story of her mother and her grandmother being removed from their homes. 
  • A Michigan law that is clearer and stronger than the federal law was passed in January with almost unanimous, bi-partisan support. The abusive practices of the past have stopped, but Indian children are still over-represented in the state's child welfare system.
  • Some child welfare advocates are looking to Michigan's law, the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act, as a model for the state because it takes a different approach to child welfare. It tries to keep children out of the state system in the first place. The law requires child welfare workers to work actively with parents to make changes that will benefit their children. The law also allows Indian children to have their cases in a smaller and more personal tribal system.  But the success of the law depends on everyone knowing the law and following it. Many people have concerns, like the Burrows family, who personally experienced a devastating loss when the law was applied incorrectly. 

Read more about the personal stories behind this law and why people have hope it can change Michigan's child welfare system at State of Opportunity

Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights / Michigan Radio

Update 4:10 p.m.

Here's the update from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol have some harsh words for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights .

During a budget hearing today, state Representative Anthony Forlini , said the department has no business filing a complaint with the federal government against Michigan schools.

“Where does it stop? I mean if you’ve got, for instance, an eagle, which is an endangered species, can you imagine the guilt of a team that beats a team that’s named after an endangered species? You can go on and on with this.”

Department representative Leslee Fritz, says there are studies that show the mascots and nicknames hurt American Indian student performance.

“What our complaint filing argues is that that is no longer the issue that’s at play here, that, in fact, research shows that the use of American Indian mascots, imagery, etcetera, is harming children’s performance in the classroom.”

Republican lawmakers want the department to withdraw the complaint. The Republican chair of the House Education committee has also called on the department to withdraw the complaint.

They say the decision on mascots and nicknames should be entirely up to districts.

NMU Center for Native American Studies

Imagine eating the same foods that Native Americans in the Great Lakes region ate before European settlers arrived. That’s the idea behind a one-year study at Northern Michigan University.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

A Central Upper Peninsula Indian tribe is asking the United Nations to help curb sulfide mining in the Upper Great Lakes.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) recently sent the United Nations a document outlining how governments are locating and planning mines on Indian land without getting input from tribes.

Tribal officials say that infringes on their treaty rights. 

KBIC member and document co-author Jessica Koski said the tribe needs to have a seat at the table.

“This is our traditional territory.  This is where we hunt, we fish, we gather, and those are rights that are maintained in treaties,” said Koski.

Koski said the mines create the equivalent of battery acid, which drains into nearby watersheds.

“That is a huge problem. There is no example in the entire world of a sulfide mine that hasn’t polluted water resources. And this is an issue that would last for generations and centuries in the Great Lakes region,” said Koski.

Mining company Kennecott Minerals said its design contains safety components that will keep Lake Superior from being polluted.

Supporters of the mine say the area badly needs the jobs.

But Koski said the mine currently being built in Marquette County is slated to last only five years, and the U.P. needs economic opportunities that are long-term.

“And that could be tourism, recreation, agriculture—local sustainable economies where we can thrive into the future and not have this ‘boom and bust,’ which is a very well-known phenomenon with the mining industry, which is why the U.P. is so desperate for another gasp of another mining boom,” said Koski.

Koski also said a sacred site near the nickel and copper mine has been fenced off and degraded. Mining company Kennecott Minerals says the tribe still has access to Eagle Rock.

Koski said their U.N. document aims to educate the public about state and federal governments approving mines on Native land without consulting tribes.

It comes on the heels of the U.N.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

The U.S. approved the multi-nation “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People” two years ago.  But a U.N. human rights official who visited the U.S. last week said more needs to be done to heal historic wounds, including a return of Native American lands to tribes.

MI DNR

It's up to the Michigan State legislature to determine what game is available for hunting in Michigan.

In late 2010, the legislature opened up the possibility of a moose hunt in Michigan.

They charged the Moose Hunting Advisory Council with developing recommendations on whether or not a moose hunt should be conducted. (You can let them know what you think by dropping them a line - moosecomments@michigan.gov).

The council is expected to present their report to the Michigan DNR's Natural Resources Commission next Thursday (September 15). The Associated Press reports that the Moose Hunting Advisory Council will recommend a moose hunt of 10 bull moose.

The NRC will take the recommendation and decide whether a hunt will occur.

But ahead of all that, the Inland Conservation Committee with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians voted to oppose the hunt.

Here's part of a statement from the tribe:

At its Aug. 1 meeting, the committee cited biological concerns of a hunt’s impact on a fragile and uncertain population of 433 moose. The proposed hunt would take 10 bull moose in the fall after the rutting season, according to news accounts. The Department of Natural Resources was officially notified of the decision last week.

The statement says "under the terms of the 2007 Inland Consent Decree, the committee's opposition effectively ends Michigan’s bid for a moose hunt, for now."

A spokeswoman for the DNR said the tribe's position will have no effect on the report going to the Natural Resources Commission next week.

If the NRC votes to establish a moose hunt in Michigan, the question of whether or not the tribe's opposition prohibits a hunt will have to be answered.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Wayland Township resident has the legal standing to sue to stop the development of a casino.

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians recently announced their plans to open the casino in Wayland Township south of Grand Rapids:

The Associated Press reports that the federal appeals court will allow David Patchak to "challenge how the federal government placed the land in trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians."