Tribal citizens in Michigan’s governance and policy making

Pictured: Michigan State Capitol.Photo: Andrew Martin, CC BY 3.0 [creativecommons.org-licenses-by-3.0])

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Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party reviews its first year

News Release

Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party

2019 was a year of growing strength of Indigenous voices in Michigan State governance. Our voices have always been strong and true, now that strength is being recognized beyond our tribes and allies. The Anishinaabek Caucus, as part of our one-year review, appreciates the work of many.

For the first time, the 12 tribes of Michigan were invited and opened the Governor’s Inauguration. Andrea Pierce, Chair of the soon to be Anishinaabek Caucus, carried in the tribal flag for Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

In 2019 Governor Whitmer appointed Tribal Citizens to State Boards and Agencies. This list in not exhaustive, but it is representative of the strength of Indigenous voices.

  • Wenona Singel, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, deputy legal counsel to the Office of the Governor. Singel is the first American Indian to hold this position in Michigan.
  • Raeanne Madison – Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Bois Forte Band /Ojibwa, Mexican, Early Childhood Investment Corporation
  • Darryl Brown – Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Arts and Cultural Affairs
  • Frank Ettawageshik – Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Water Use Advisory Council
  • Michael Larson – UP Energy Task Force
  • Warren “Chris” Schwartz – Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, UP Energy Task Force
  • James Paquette – Iron Industry Museum Advisory Board
  • Victoria Leonhardt – Iron Industry Museum Advisory Board
  • Emily Proctor – Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Census
  • John Graham – Michigan Community Service Commission
  • Patricia Sterling – Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians , Statewide Independent Living Council
  • Brigette LaPointe – Bay Mills Indian Community, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness
  • Juliette Roddy – Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians., Correctional Officers Training Council
  • Stephen Franko – Commission on Services to the Aging
  • Theresa Thompson – Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity
  • Dana Lasenby – Autism Council
  • Whitney Gravelle – Bay Mills Indian Community , Michigan Women's Council
  • Evelyn H. Ravindran – Keweenaw Bay Indian Community , Michigan's Mining Future Committee
  • Melissa Lopez Pope – Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention & Treatment Board
  • John Petoskey – Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians , Environmental Justice Advisory Council
  • Bryan Newland – Bay Mills Indian Community ,Environmental Justice Advisory Council

In 2019 the Anishinaabek Caucus brought the Indigenous perspective to the Michigan Democratic Party for the first time. The Anishinaabek Caucus wrote a Resolution condemning the use of the term “Redsk*ins” to reference Native American People as mascots. “Sports team names, such as ‘Redskins’ in our Michigan schools undermines the educational experience of all children. Michigan Indigenous children deserve to receive an education in an environment free from this dictionary defined slur,” says Julie Dye, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Anishinaabek Caucus Secretary.

In 2019 the Anishinaabek Caucus wrote a Position Statement to decommission Enbridge’s Line-5. It was submitted to both Governor Whitmer, Attorney General Nessel, and recently to the Congressional Senate Committee on Energy and Public Works.

In 2019 the Anishinaabek Caucus spoke at the House Press Conference introducing House bills, 5290, 5291, 5292. This set of bills do three things: puts ground water into the Public Trust; closes the small bottle export loophole; restores to the Department of Natural Resources a power to enforce the law. Andrea Pierce, Anishinaabek Caucus Chair, reminds us, “Michigan Environmental Quality ignored 80,000 public comments in 2018 and granted Nestle the right to steal our water. Good legislation will give us the legal tools protect water in Michigan.”

Center for Michigan hosted Water Forums across the state in 2019, the Anishinaabek Caucus participated in a panel in Lansing. The featured topic was Enbridge’s Line-5.

Board Members Andrea Pierce, Julie Dye, and Thomas Stephens had a part in the following events: Pipe-Up and Paddle-Out at the Straits of Mackinac; Peace in the Streets Rally in Detroit; CNN presidential debate in Detroit; Four Directions and Nevada Tribal Nations American Presidential Forum in Las Vegas; Native Council of the Democratic National Committee in D.C..

The Anishinaabek Caucus looks forward to 2020 expanding membership in all Michigan Counties and turning up the volume of Indigenous voices.

Anishinaabek Caucus of Michigan Democratic Party is a political caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party advocating for the issues and concerns of the 12 Tribes in Michigan. 

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(Image: Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party)
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