This section of the guide will provide resources pertaining to Michigan’s First Nations Peoples. There are three main Anishinaabe nations in Michigan: Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewadomi (Potawatomi), which collectively form The Council of The Three Fires.
The creators of this guide acknowledge the University of Michigan’s origins in the 1817 Foot of the Rapids (Fort Meigs) treaty between the United States and the "Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawanese, Potawatomees, Ottawas and Cheppeway." In Article 16 of this treaty, the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodawadomi Nations made the largest single land transfer to the University of Michigan which at that time was known as “the Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania." In it, "they stipulated that three sections be given "'for the Church of Ste. Anne de Detroit' and the other to the newly established University of Michigan 'because the Indians... may wish some of their children hereafter educated." Here we acknowledge a difference in the understanding of terms and power between these settler and Indigenous signatories. And we note that our university stands, like almost all property in the United States, on lands obtained, generally in unconscionable ways, from indigenous peoples who continue to be unconscionably treated.
With this acknowledgment, we recognize these First Nations' contemporary and ancestral ties to the land and their contributions to the University of Michigan. We hope that through scholarship and pedagogy, we can create a future in which understanding of the past supports present-day justice balanced by care and compassion. (adapted from statements by La Casa, American Culture and INSciTS)
The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, a branch of the Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation Service, recognizes some Native American Tribes. These Federally Recognized tribes have sovereign governments and provide various services to their members. This section of the guide links to the official websites of Michigan’s twelve Federally Recognized tribes.
The Michigan State Government recognizes four Native American tribes. State recognition builds relationships between tribal and state governments but does not automatically confer federal benefits to tribes. This section of the guide links to the official websites of Michigan’s state-recognized tribes.
BMCC, founded in 1895, is Michigan’s first fully accredited, tribally controlled community college. Its curriculum integrates traditional Native American values and Anishinaabek culture.
KBOCC is a higher education institute for the L’Anse Indian Reservation. It provides academic and vocational programs rich in Ojibwe culture, tradition, and beliefs.
SCTC, founded in 1998, is a community college located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. It provides educational opportunities that reflect Anishinaabe culture and the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
The GTB Heritage library contains collections focusing on the Native American community, self-help, and child care.
Mzinigangamik - Cultural Library (LTBB Library)
The LTBB Cultural Library contains cultural collections focusing on Anishinaabe culture, documentation of oral histories, and cultural children’s books.
The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library provides resources and services that promote the revitalization of Native American culture, the Seven Grandfather Teachings, literacy, and Ojibwe culture and language.
The Ojibwa Community Library serves the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and provides materials on Native American fiction and non-fiction.
The OLCL contains over 1000 books on Native American traditions, languages, and cultures. It also offers Anishinaabe language classes, educational videos, and authentic cultural pieces.
The Potawatomi Heritage Center is a part of the Hannahville Indian Community and offers people the chance to view various artifacts and learn about the community’s history. It focuses on the revitalization of the Potawatomi language and offers various means of learning such as lessons, online courses, and a language lab.
The Ziibiwing Center promotes the culture of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Great Lakes Anishinaabek culture. The center’s exhibits tell the story of the indigenous people of the Great Lakes region and its collections contain contemporary objects that revitalize tribe traditions and teachings.
The Nokomis Cultural Heritage Center aims to preserve the history, culture, and language of the Great Lakes Anishinaabek culture. The center features a collection of Native American artifacts such as spearheads, baskets, and deerskin clothing.
The Great Lakes Cultural Camps is an experimental learning camp focused on land-based learning of Anishinaabek culture.
The Mary Murray Culture Camp offers cultural activities for the Sault Tribe community and venues for tribal retreats. It offers activities like winter survival camps and workshops to make moccasins and moose hide mittens.
The Andrew J. BlackBird Museum harbors various Native American artifacts. It represents Michigan’s Native American culture and Blackbird’s work in settling land claims and achieving citizenship for Native Americans.
The Eyaawing Museum promotes the history of the Grand Traverse Band of Anishinaabek. The museum features the work of tribal artists, education materials, books, and maps.
The museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits with collections featuring Ojibwe culture and the lifestyle of tribes on the Huron.
The Native American Nations follow a thirteen moon lunar cycle. Each moon signifies a certain cultural teaching corresponding to the cycle of life and nature.
The guide provides information about the thirteen moons of the Ojibwe, Cree, and Mohawk tribes.
(image below courtesy of ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub)
Native American Boarding Schools were established nationwide by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 19th century in order to assimilate Native American children into Euro-American culture. The goal of these schools, and the mission statement of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, was to "kill the Indian, and save the man." By eradicating their culture and training them for menial labor, the U.S. government hoped to do away with "the Indian problem." Besides being stripped of their culture, children at these schools endured mental and physical abuse. Families who resisted saw their children forcibly removed from their homes.
Indian Boarding Schools still exist, of which some have been in operation since the 1800s, although their curriculum is now generally Native centric, including classes that re-introduce aspects of native culture.
As part of the 2010 fiscal year Defense Appropriations bill the Senate passed "S.J.Res.14 - A joint resolution to acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States" for such items as "Whereas the Federal Government condemned the traditions, beliefs, and customs of Native Peoples and endeavored to assimilate them by such policies as the redistribution of land... and the forcible removal of Native children from their families to faraway boarding schools where their Native practices and languages were degraded and forbidden."
There were three Native American Boarding Schools in Michigan: Baraga, Harbor Springs, and Mount Pleasant. Holy Childhood in Harbor Springs, Michigan operated until 1983.
Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial was open until 1934. The site has now been purchased by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to preserve its history.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition aims to address the trauma created by the implementation of the Boarding School Policy that mandated indigenous peoples families to send their children to Indian Boarding Schools.
This online exhibit features books, maps, manuscripts, and photographs of early encounters between indigenous peoples and European explorers, warfare, native leaders, and Indian boarding schools.
A bibliography of manuscript collections reflecting the history and culture of Native Americans in Michigan.
This collection consists of Odawa and Lakota elder Warren Petoskey’s materials related to professional and personal activities, historical information, photographs, and audio recordings.
Michigan’s Tribal Governments website consists of links to various agreements between the state government and tribal governments, resources offered by the state government, and information about Michigan’s tribes and tribal issues.
The Council is a consortium of Michigan’s Federally Recognized Tribes. It works to provide assistance to member tribes and advocate for policies to improve the lives of Michigan’s Native Americans.
The organization provides legal services to Michigan’s income-eligible indigenous peoples.
The Directory is a compilation of Tribal and State contacts, Indian organizations and services, and tribal scholarships.
The MIEC is a non-profit organization that advocates for Native American education in the state of Michigan and hosts conferences for people interested in tribal education issues.