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Michigan Department of Civil Rights Recognizes Michigan Indian Day
September 25, 2015
Lansing – The Michigan Department of Civil Rights today released a statement from Director Matt Wesaw and United Tribes President Homer A. Mandoka recognizing Friday, September 25 as Michigan Indian Day.
“Michigan Indian Day is an opportunity for each of us to learn more about the native people who call Michigan home, and recognize their legacy of stewardship and reverence for the two great peninsulas on which we live and the four great lakes that surround us,” said Matthew Wesaw, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and former chair of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
“Michigan’s Native Americans, living and working in sovereign tribal nations, have the opportunity to govern ourselves – a reality only possible because of our legacy of self-sufficiency,” said Homer Mandoka, Tribal Council Chair of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and President of United Tribes of Michigan. “Maintaining our independence and self-reliance and keeping our focus seven generations ahead is key to tribal growth and success, and it can serve as a model of strength and resilience for other Michigan cultures and communities.”
“Michigan tribal tradition tells us that our people have always been here, and will always be here,” said Wesaw. “I believe Michigan’s tribal communities have survived, through times of peace and of persecution, because they held fast to the Seven Grandfather values of Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth. This love of family, importance of community, and reverence for life are cornerstones of Michigan’s tribal nations, and continue to contribute to the vitality and cultural richness of life in our great state.”
In 1974, the Michigan legislature passed and Governor Milliken signed into law Act 30, establishing the fourth Friday in September each year as Michigan Indian Day. While not a legal holiday, the Act recognizes and honors the unique cultures and contributions of Native Americans in Michigan.
Michigan is home to 12 federally-recognized tribes: Bay Mills Indian Community, Brimley; Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Peshawbestown; Hannahville Indian Community, Wilson; Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Baraga; Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Watersmeet; Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Manistee; Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Harbor Springs; Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, Dorr; Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians, Fulton; Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Dowagiac; Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, Mt. Pleasant; Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Sault Ste. Marie.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law.