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Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party

Local activists call out Monroe county’s immortalization of Custer with a 14’ x 48’ billboard on I-75. Despite increasing public pressure from local activists and Native Americans nationwide, Monroe, Michigan continues to honor war criminal General George Armstrong Custer with street names, a school, social events, an airport, and a large bronze statue prominently displayed at its city center.

Since 2020 the Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party has been working with local activists from Good Trouble Monroe attending city council meetings to share news of the growing push to rid Monroe of its Custer worship once and for all. The volume of attention was so great that the Mayor and members of city council voted to stop reading letters aloud at their meetings, reduced public speaking opportunities, and refused to conduct hybrid meetings which would have allowed for further Native input. Plans to hire an impartial mediator to oversee future projects related to Custer’s representation around Monroe were also abandoned.

Public commentary included Julie Dye, Elder of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, who stated “Monroe, Michigan actually happens to be part of my tribe’s ancestral territory, and I would just like to say that this monument is just as hurtful now as it was years ago when my relatives and ancestors protested it.” Nat Spurr, a citizen of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi urged, “We don't want the symbol of Monroe to be a war criminal, a killer of Native American … elderly people, men, women and children, and I think the city of Monroe can do better than that.”

The National Congress of American Indians voted unanimously in favor of dismantling memorials to George Armstrong Custer across the United States. The United Tribes of Michigan voted unanimously calling for the removal of a Custer statue in Monroe, Michigan. The Michigan Democratic Party also passed a similar resolution.

Monroe County Community College scrapped its plans to incorporate a land acknowledgement carefully crafted by local Native Americans and the school’s staff. The River Raisin Battlefield has relied heavily on consultation from a currently unrecognized group claiming Native heritage. Monroe Public Schools has been disinterested in changing the name of Custer Elementary I and II. Other local organizations comfortable with the war criminal have also refused to budge.

Monroe must evolve with the rest of the country; instead, it continues to honor a war criminal.

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