Oakland County’s Executive Patterson Compares Detroit to Indian Reservation in The New Yorker

L. Brooks Patterson

L. Brooks Patterson

DETROIT — Oakland County’s Executive L. Brooks Patterson was profiled in this week’s issue of “The New Yorker” and has caused a stir among American Indians in Michigan for comments he made comparing the city of Detroit to an Indian reservation.

Oakland County is an affluent county north of Detroit that was built up in what is termed “white flight” that occurred over decades as Detroit’s core population dwindled.

His comments “The New Yorker’s” article regarding Detroit’s bankruptcy and violence has earned Patterson the ire of civil rights groups in Michigan.

“The New Yorker’s” article headline is: “DROP DEAD, DETROIT!”

Particularly troubling to American Indians are the following comments comparing Detroit to an Indian reservation:

“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.'”

Tuesday morning several posts were on the Native News Online’s Facebook page made by Michigan American Indians.

Mixed with some Indian humor, Lee Sprague the former ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, based in Manistee, Michigan reflects on Michigan Indian history on his Facebook wall:

 “Our Idea First: To turn Detroit into a Whiteman’s reservation in 1795.

We did forget to build a fence around Detroit to keep them in and you can see what happened. So L. Brooks Patterson and others have escaped and are screwing up the rest of our lands. Yes, our goal was to build a Whiteman Reservation to contain their ways to the Detroit area. Sadly the industrial nightmare has escaped Detroit and all people can think about is being equal to the industrial Whiteman.

We should have negotiated a fence in that 1795 Treaty of Greenville where we gave them the Fort Detroit area to play Whiteman in.

We gave them the Detroit Treaty. So build a fence around it. Herd all the industrialists in there, throw in a cotton blanket and a few barrels of Koch Brothers tar sand oil. Our containment strategy failed miserably, I’ll admit we had no idea of the literally invasive sub-species capabilities, even without a lick of sense in them. We will be proven right of the idiocy the industrialists have foisted on the Great Lakes. Calling it progress, while degrading the life-giving waters of the Great Lakes is sick.”

“L. Brooks Patterson’s only logical, and respectful, next step is a full apology to the Anishinabek community and tribal nations throughout Indian country. Having met Mr. Patterson at an Oakland County powwow, it is apprent he learned nothing for the appreciation-and cultural understanding-of Native people. His bigoted statements only reflect his racial viewpoints that he carries in the administrative functions as County Executive of Oakland County,” said Derek Bailey, former tribal chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, based in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

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