“We Should Shoot the Indians”

This fishing vessel, named Sandy, sank on last weekend. Photo from Facebook

This fishing trap net vessel, named Sandy, is owned by a Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, sank on last weekend. Photo from Facebook.

 Guest Commentary

Several days ago, the trap net trawler ‘Sandy’ sank in Ludington near the Pere Marquette retaining wall by the Washington Avenue Bridge. The trawler is not owned by the tribe,  but it is owned by one person who is a tribal member. The fisherman is only licensed to fish by the tribe. These are the facts.

But making sure that the facts are known is not the reason for this editorial. This editorial is written to address the reaction to the news of the boat sinking.

When the story first appeared online, the first Facebook comment was, “maybe we should shoot the Indians when they come to get it.”

Wow! This is 2016. Such comments have no place in our communities, our state, or our county.

If such a comment had been made regarding any other minority group, the outcry from the media, other government agencies, and activists would be loud and long. The FBI would be launching an investigation into possible “hate crimes”.

But this isn’t about any other race. This is about Indians. Native Americans. Anishinaabe people. First People.

These types of comments should be extremely distressing to our community members. Distressing that people with these attitudes are still in our communities and distressing that they can make this type of comment without shame or chastisement.

The entire region benefits from the activities of the tribal nation who calls this area home. That is, they love the money generated by the enterprise, but some apparently despise the people who generate it. The tribal nations of Michigan, including the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, contribute culture, a unique historical perspective, and so much more to benefit all of our residents. If you don’t see it, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Comments reminiscent of an old western “B” movie are made (and continue to be made) online and in the media. Still no one speaks out publicly in defense of decency, tolerance, and community.

Glenn Zaring is the public affairs director at the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, based in Manistee, Michigan.

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