Posted on school building where American Indians were expected to attending public hearing in opposition to state application. Photo by Desomd Berry
Published January 26, 2018
STEPHENSON, MICHIGAN – It was a Michigan Department of the Environmental Quality (MDEQ) public hearing on whether or not to approve an application for the Back Forty Mine. Opposition from the Menominee Tribe and other American Indians has been widely known by non-Indians in this small Michigan town, near the border of Wisconsin.
In anticipation of American Indians attendance at the public hearing on Tuesday, January 23, someone posted a sign on the Stephenson High School glass door that read: “No signs or costumes allowed in the building.”
On Thursday morning, MDEQ denied posting the sign and even suggested the Stephenson High School staff posted the disrespectful sign on the door that greeted dozens of American Indians who attended the four-hour long hearing.
Here is an email sent by a MDEQ to Native News Online
“It has been brought to our attention that a sign was posted at the Back Forty Public hearing that does not represent the spirit of the gathering, nor did it provide a space where all people felt respected. Please be advised that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality DID NOT post the signage in question. This sign was brought to law enforcement attention, it was addressed with the responsible party, and it was removed. We have seen that some misinformation has been spreading on social media that the DEQ intentionally posted this sign and message to be disrespectful to the Indigenous Peoples that were expected to attend the meeting. The DEQ works to provide a safe and respectful place for all to share their views and we expressly apologize that this situation happened at the building where we were holding a public hearing. If you have any further questions, please contact Stephenson High School regarding this matter. “
Calls to the school by Native News Online went unreturned on Thursday.