Archive | October, 2010

Returning to the Earth Events: Nov. 3-5, 2010

28 Oct

“Tribe to get human remains from CMU”


“Remains of tribal ancestors to be returned from CMU in early November”


“Native American remains to return to the earth”


“In Honor and Respect: Returning the Remains of Native Americans to their Ancestors”

In June 2008, Ziibiwing staff met with Dr. Gary Shapiro, Dean for the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. William Pretzer, Director of the Museum of Cultural and Natural History, regarding the culturally unidentifiable ancestors and associated funerary objects Central Michigan University (CMU) has in their possession. 

Dean Shapiro began the meeting by stating that as a Presidentially-appointed representative for CMU, he expressed that the university would like to begin the process for disposition of the culturally unidentifiable human remains and associated funerary objects within the university museum’s collection.

This overture of good faith and respect from CMU to honor the “spirit” of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in returning culturally unidentifiable human remains (CUHR) and associated funerary objects (AFO) to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan was celebrated by many Tribes throughout Indian Country.

American Indian people had a victory! However, CMU’s decision was, and still is, considered controversial by many peer institutions.

Some institutions continue to use NAGPRA as a barrier rather than a bridge of ancestral reconciliation for Tribal peoples. The University of Michigan and UC-Berkeley are the most notorious for maintaining a position of not returning CUHR and AFO to Tribes based on their institutions’ convoluted theories of historic Tribal occupation, warfare, and migration. Instead of consulting with Tribes to make affiliation determinations, these institutions prefer to cast shadows of doubt – “smoke & mirrors” if you will, while easily dismissing the preponderance of evidence submitted by Tribal peoples.

Notably, CMU moved to begin the process for ancestral disposition long before the new NAGPRA regulations were passed on May 14, 2010 which tipped the scales in favor of Tribes. For this, all of those who were involved at CMU in making this positive decision must be commended. CMU’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History posted a Notice of Inventory Completion in the Federal Register on July 26, 2010.

The sites from which the ancestors were extracted from include the Frazer-Tyra Site (#20SA9) representing a minimum number of 124 individuals and 372 associated funerary objects; the Indian Mound Park Site (#20IB1) representing a minimum number of 18 individuals and 5 associated funerary objects; and the Point Lookout Site (#20AC18) representing a minimum number of 2 individuals and 11 associated funerary objects. The excavations of the Frazer-Tyra Site (#20SA9), Indian Mound Park Site (#20IB1), and Point Lookout Site (#20AC18) took place from 1968-1970.

The “Walk Them Home & Returning to the Earth” ceremonies for the ancestors will take place on November 4 & 5.

On Thursday, November 4 at 9am, all people are encouraged to participate in a “Walk Them Home” procession from the CMU campus to the Tribe’s Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery. Opening remarks will be given by CMU and Tribal leaders, including Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of the American Indian Movement, who will offer words of faith and encouragement. Lunch will be served for all “Walk Them Home” participants upon arrival at the Nibokaan. Shuttle service will run between “the Hill” and the campus starting point.

On Friday, November 5 at 12pm, all people are welcome to witness the “Returning to the Earth” ceremony for the ancestors and their associated funerary objects at the Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery. At this time, we will also be reburying 3 culturally affiliated ancestors and 12 associated funerary objects from the Saginaw River Valley, Bay County, Bay City site who have been at the Grand Rapids Public Museum since 1917. The ceremony will be officiated by Curtis Hopkins, with the assistance from other invited Anishinabe spiritual leaders. The Ziibiwing Center will host a Spirit Feast beginning at 6pm to conclude the ancestral protocols. All are welcome to bring a dish to pass.

CMU will host a “Repatriation Roundtable” on November 3 featuring guest speaker, Dennis Banks, and others who work to address NAGPRA issues.

For more information about these activities, contact the Ziibiwing Center at (989) 775-4750 or visit

Please click this link for the event flyer. repatriation_flyer

Honoring the Eagle

14 Oct

Free and open to the public


Ziibiwing’s Art Market Awards Over $16,000

7 Oct

The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways awarded over $16,000 to twenty-four North American Indian artists during a very well attended VIP Preview event in the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort’s Entertainment Hall on Friday, October 1.  A member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Amado M. Pena, Jr.’s piece entitled “Mestizo Series: Sea Ania” was recognized as this year’s Best of Show winner.

The Indigenous Peoples Art Market held in the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort’s Entertainment Hall on Oct. 2 & 3 was free and open to the public. Nowhere else in Michigan did the public get the chance to purchase artwork from such a diverse gathering of some of the most renowned North American Indian artisans on the continent. The event is known as one of the finest North American Indian juried art shows and art markets in the country.

Fifty-three North American Indian artists representing categories such as jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings, drawings, graphics, baskets, and diversified art forms displayed and sold their work throughout the weekend. The artists featured come from tribes including the Ojibwe, Navajo, Miami, Mohawk, Ho-Chunk, Iroquois, Potawatomi, Oneida, and more.  “It is an honor to be part of the Ziibiwing Center’s Art Market. This is my fourth year of attending as an artist. I look forward to meeting the staff that works so hard to make this show possible for us. 2008 was successfully held in the casino which I thought was the best show ever. It was very well organized…,” says Herbert Joe of White Lake, Mich. commenting on the previous Indigenous Peoples Art Market.

On both days there were artist demonstrations, song and dance exhibitions, a children’s activity area, and many opportunities to interact with the artists.