Michigan Tribes Gain Official Recognition in the Michigan Democratic Party: Party Chair Authorizes Anishinaabek Caucus

Lavora Barnes, chairperson of the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP), speaks to Anishinaabek Caucus at the MDP Spring Convention.

Andrea Pierce

Published February 24, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — Andrea Pierce, (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians); Julie Dye (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi); Tom Shomin (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians); and Desmond Berry (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) have founded the Anishinaabek Caucus within the Michigan Democratic Party to bring forward issues of concern to the Native Community in Michigan.

Tom Shomin

The Native American Community includes many strong advocates for the environment and for the preservation of our water systems. However, Native Americans experience challenges in the context of the wider culture that still harbors racism against them. Among the issues the Caucus will be addressing are low high school graduation rates and high rates of imprisonment, suicide, and domestic violence. Native Women, in statistically high numbers, have been abducted or murdered, often at the hands of non-Native perpetrators. This threat, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, MMIW, has been poorly investigated.

Julie Dye

At the MDP 2019 Spring Convention, Lavora Barnes, newly elected chair of Michigan Democratic Party, spoke at an Anishinaabek meeting in support of the Caucus’ formation and to acknowledge the necessity for inclusion of Michigan’s Native community in Michigan’s political process.

In coordination with several County and a District Democratic Parties, the Native community brought forth their first Resolution to address stereotyping and prejudicial treatment of their heritage and race. The Resolution Condemning the Use of the term Redskins was passed unanimously on the floor of the MDP Convention.

Barry Desmond

The word Anishinaabek, translates into “the original people.” Anishinaabek also refers to three tribes in the Great Lake Basin: Odawa (Ottawa), Ojibwa (Chippewa), and Bodewadoni (Potawatomi), which have also been referred to as The Three Fires. Anishinaabek Caucus membership is open to any Michigan Democratic Party Member. Chair positions are reserved for registered Anishinaabek of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes.

Anishinaabek Caucus of the MDP

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