Eastern Michigan University Investigating “Red-Face” Party Which Led to Racial Slur Towards Elderly American Indian Man

Even though Eastern Michigan University did away with Hurons name in 1991, the band brought back the Hurons logo in 2012

Even though Eastern Michigan University did away with Hurons name in 1991, the band brought back the Hurons logo in 2012

Native Students do not feel safe in current university environment

YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN— An incident involving between 15 – 20 Eastern Michigan University students who dressed up as American Indians for an off-campus house party and an subsequent altercation with an Elder American Indian is now under investigation, according a statement released by an Eastern Michigan University official.

The students, reportedly dressed in fake American Indian attire and with their faces painted red, taunted an Elder American Indian man who happened was walking down the street past the house where the party was held last Saturday afternoon.

The American Indian man addressed some students who were red-faced, bare-chested and wearing headdresses told them what they were doing was offensive to American Indians and racist.

One person at the “red-face” party told the elderly American Indian man: “We are Hurons and we are doing a ceremony to impregnate women.”

Using a variety of expletives, the students told him to “go back to the reservation” and threw a can of beer at him, which hit him in the chest.

The man called the Ypsilanti Police Department who took a report and broke up the party. No arrests were made.

Eastern Michigan University used the “Hurons” name and American Indian logo from 1929 until the early 1991. The state university dropped the Hurons name after much resistance of its use from American Indians. The school now uses the Eagles name. Two years ago, the school began to use the Hurons logo on their band uniforms.

“My concern is our Native students do not feel safe now. We know that cultural appropriation very often leads violence to towards the culture that is being appropriated, commented Michelle Lietz, the vice president of the Native American Student Organization at Eastern Michigan University to Native News Online Saturday afternoon.

Lietz, who is a tribal citizen of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, is a graduate student in literature studies at the university. She and others on the Native American Student Organization have met with university officials this past week and wants to see the university drop any usage of the word Hurons.

“To me, it usage foster the dehumanization of our community,” said Lietz.

Lietz said the Eastern Michigan University chief of police told her they have identified at least three of those involved at the party.

Below is the complete text of the statement issued by Eastern Michigan University:

“Officials at Eastern Michigan University became aware on Sunday, April 12, 2015 that a party took place the previous afternoon at an off-campus location on Hamilton Street. It was reported that some of those in attendance at the party were EMU students dressed as Native Americans. It was further reported that the group had an altercation with a member of the community who, upon witnessing the students, expressed offense regarding their dress and behavior.

Eastern Michigan University immediately initiated a full investigation of the incident. University officials have also met with EMU students who have expressed their strong concerns about the incident.

Eastern Michigan University takes these matters very seriously and remains strongly committed to maintaining a respectful, inclusive and safe environment, in which acts that seek to inflict physical, psychological or emotional harm on specific demographic groups will not be tolerated.

The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and will be guided by the University’s policies and procedures that govern student conduct.”

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