NNO: ‘State of Michigan Fully Funds Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver with $12.7 Million’

Full article here.

“The MITW is a program enacted by Public Act 174 of 1976, which waives the tuition costs for eligible Native Americans in public community colleges or universities within Michigan. Up until 1995, the MITW was fully funded so that public state institutions will be reimbursed by the State of Michigan for tuition for Native American students who fulfilled the requirements. In 1995, then Michigan Governor John Engler sought to eliminate the program, but the state legislature overrode the governor’s decision with inadquate funding.

Tribal leaders have fought since the mid-1990s to have the program fully funded. After her election last November, Governor Whitmer made a commitment to tribal leaders she would put the MITW in her budget. She did so when she submitted her budget in February and the state legislature kept the line item to fund MITW in the budget.”


Media Coverage of Michigan’s Underfunded Native Tuition Program

This Detroit News article has a premise that supports the need for Michigan to appropriate more money to the tuition waiver and does an adequate job of summarizing the history of the program, except for this small paragraph about the purpose of the Mt. Pleasant boarding school:

The native boarding schools were part of a national movement aimed at educating native children so they could get training in a skill to sustain a livelihood. In shutting down the exchange, the state agreed to fund higher education for Native Americans.

This is a sugar-coated annotation for what was really a disturbing and disgraceful time in American history.

Michigan Indian Day Information and Registration Forms

Ashley Harding, former Program Coordinator at the ILPC, has done an amazing amount of work for this year’s Michigan Indian Day program.  We know the whole day will be great, but are sure some will be very interested in the second keynote speaker.

During the administration of Governor William G. Milliken, the Legislature designated the fourth Friday of September as Michigan Indian Day (Act 30 of 1974, Section 435.161). To honor this day in the State of Michigan, the Michigan Indian Day Planning Committee through the Ingham County Health Department’s Native American Outreach Program is proud to announce the 9th Annual Michigan Indian Day Event, entitled Strengthening Health, Strengthening Families: Empowering Indigenous Communities.

The event will be taking place Friday, September 24 at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The conference this year will be discussing health inequity and health disparities among the American Indian/First Nations populations of Michigan.

Our keynote speakers will be:

Stacy A. Bohlen, Executive Director, National Indian Health Board (NIHB), Washington, D.C.

Daniel Levy, Director of Law & Policy at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. He will be discussing recent changes made to the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver and the American Indian/First Nations populations this is affecting.

Workshop discussions include:
– Urban Native youth programming and its importance,
– Tobacco use among American Indians
– Tackling health inequity and why,
– Indian child welfare updates,
– Tribes and environmental justice issues,
– and MORE…

The cost of registration is $30 for the General Public and $15 for Students and Elders. Registration costs include materials, refreshments and lunch. No cash will be accepted.

Scholarships are available for students and elders (55 & up). Due to the limited number of scholarships, the committee will be taking these applications on a first come first serve basis.

Participants have the opportunity to register online or print off the registration form and mail it. Registration forms mailed must include payment. For those who register online, payment must be received within two weeks of registration. Please note the registration deadline is Friday, September 17.


If there are any questions, please contact Ashley Harding at 517.272.4127 or by email at aharding@ingham.org

We hope to see you in attendance.

Registration Form
Registration Form-Elder Scholarship

Registration Form-Student Scholarship

Commentary: Now Is the Time for Michigan Tribes to Renew Their Gaming Compacts

The success — shocking and aweing (surely to the MichGO plaintiffs — :)) — of the Gun Lake Band in getting their Class III gaming compact through the Michigan Senate (controlled by Republicans) and House (controlled by Dems, and a few years back had previously approved the compact) should be a serious sign to the rest of the Michigan tribes — NOW is the time to renew or renegotiate gaming compacts.

Here are the facts:

  1. Michigan, and the rest of the US, is in a serious, serious economic downturn.
  2. The State of Michigan, losing tax revenue each and every day, and suffering through year after year of declining governmental revenues.
  3. Michigan tribes, also, are suffering through declining revenue. It turns out that gaming may be recession-proof, but it surely isn’t depression-proof. Now is the time to prove to the State’s negotiators that tribes will be hurt — perhaps even killed — by increased revenue sharing.
  4. Gov. Granholm isn’t going to be the State’s governor forever. The next governor may be someone far less likely to (a) negotiate an Indian gaming compact with reasonable terms, or (b) negotiate a gaming compact at all.
  5. Tribes like Burt Lake will be knocking at the State’s door offering something more than 10 percent, all the way up to the Detroit casino’s 36 percent (did I get that percentage right?).

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Michigan Tuition Waiver News Coverage

The Grand Rapids Press ran a story on the GR representative who introduced the bill to abolish the tuition waiver. I spent a great deal of time talking to the reporter about my point of view on the benefit of the waiver, and recommended she talk to tribal leaders about, but to my disappointment and regret she wrote nothing whatsoever about the benefits of the waiver to Indian people.

Oh well.

What I did say, and I’m sure even a modicum of empirical research would bear out, is that the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver has been an outstanding engine of economic growth in the entire State. There would be Indian gaming, but I suspect it would have come much later to Michigan Indians without the college-educated Indian professionals to guide the way. And not all the beneficiaries of the tuition waiver went into gaming-related jobs. Many, many more have helped to fill jobs inside and outside of Indian Country.

And to say that Indian casinos make millions is disingenuous. Some do, some definitely don’t. Many tribal members living outside of their communities see little of that benefit. The tuition waiver for many Indians in Michigan is the difference between poverty and hope.

All this is — is free promotion for a junior rep from Grand Rapids with no political power.

University of Michigan Anishinaabemowin Classes Profiled

In USA Today:

DETROIT (AP) — The statistics might not be promising, but personal experience offers Brooke Simon hope that her ancestors’ language won’t disappear.

Lecturer Margaret Noori leads a weekly Ojibwe language study group at the University of Michigan, Thursday, April 3, in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“I can walk down the street and hear someone yell ‘aanii!’ from across the street,” said the 20-year-old University of Michigan student, referring to a greeting in Ojibwe, or Anishinaabemowin. “Students aren’t afraid to use the language and learn about this language.”

Simon participates in the Ann Arbor university’s Program in Ojibwe Language and Literature, one of the largest of its kind in the nation. It seeks to teach and preserve the American Indian language spoken by about 10,000 in more than 200 communities across the Great Lakes region — but 80% of them are older than 60.

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