Published April 5, 2018
BARAGA, MICHIGAN – The Native Justice Coalition (NJC), along with other social non-profit organizations in Michigan, will be hosting their inaugural Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference in the Niiwin Akeaa Community Center on the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community reservation on April 13th through 15th, 2018. The conference was established in response to a lack of Native voices in racial equality dialogues. Speakers and presenters will talk about identifying historical trauma, creating more inclusive spaces for Native folks, and building resilient tribal communities.
The Native Justice Coalition was founded in 2016 by Cecelia Rose LaPointe, a Mashkiziibi (Bad River) and Kchiwiikwedong (Keweenaw Bay) tribal citizen. LaPointe is also the founder and owner of Red Circle Consulting and Waub Ajijaak Press.
Other organizations working in collaboration with the conference include Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, Northern Michigan University – Center for Native American Studies, Michigan Technological University, Showing up for Racial Justice – Keweenaw Chapter, Red Circle Consulting, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Native Justice Coalition Volunteers will also serve as facilitators for roundtable discussions on indigenous issues.
There are about 32 planned speakers and panelists, with workshops being offered on topics ranging from environmental racism, mascots, youth voices in racial justice, and storytelling in Anishinaabe culture. Breaking free from the Western conference format as a form of decolonization, the Native Justice Coalition elected to not have a keynote speaker, instead weighing the voices of each attendee equally. In Anishinaabe culture, ogemaag (leaders) do not make decisions for their community without a full consensus. Giving each attendee the opportunity to speak in discussion circles, the NJC hopes, will present a space that is more reflective of Anishinaabe lifeways through a decolonial discourse.
What will also make the conference unique is its attention to harm reduction, healing, sobriety, and recovery. The conference will include Four Thunders Drum of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community which is a sober drum in the community. We will have Anishinaabe singers and songwriters who will share their music in relation to recovery and healing.
For more information, visit the NJC’s conference webpage at https://www.nativejustice.org/conference/. Onsite registration will be available the morning of April 13th. Additionally, NJC is seeking submissions for a Native Youth Zine to be distributed at the conference through Waub Ajijaak Press. Submissions will be accepted through April 8th and can be uploaded at https://ajijaak.submittable.com/submit/109478/native-youth-zine. Support this amazing work and the healing of our communities