Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-D4-10865]
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, what started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans" and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including "Native American Heritage Month" and "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month") have been issued each year since 1994.
Michigan Indian Day
Recently, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights 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.
Below are a list of federally recognized tribes in Michigan:
Bay Mills Chippewa Indian Community
12140 W. Lakeshore Drive
Rt. 1, Box 313
Brimley, MI 49715
Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
2605 N.West Bayshore Drive
Peshawbestown, MI 49682
Hannahville Indian Community
Wilson, MI 49896-9728
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
16429 Beartown Road
Baraga, MI 49908
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
23968 East Pow Wow Trail
P.O. Box 249
Watersmeet, MI 49969
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
375 River St.
Manistee, MI 49660
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
P.O. Box 246
7500 Odawa Circle
Harbor Springs, MI 49660
Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan (Gun Lake)
P.O. Box 218
1743 142nd Avenue
Dorr, MI 49323
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians
1485 Mno-Bmadzewen Way
Fulton, MI 49052
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
58620 Sink Road
P.O. Box 180
Dowagiac, MI 49047
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
7070 E. Broadway
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
523 Ashmun Street
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
**Please note that the phone numbers listed are general numbers. You may be transferred or given other contact information for your specific inquiry**
This was printed in the November 15, 2015 - November 28, 2015 edition.