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July 29, 1978 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1978-07-29

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, July 29, 1978-Page 9
Th7e University

e Ann Arbor-based attorney representing
hnson and the tribes, has managed to con-
ract a persuasive case.
E EXPLAINS THAT Governor Cass confer-
red with members of the three tribes, and
acted a treaty for them to sign on September
1817. One month earlier, the
tholepistemaid, or University of Michigania
s created at Detroit by an act of the Michigan
rritorial government, and a few weeks later,
e University established a primary school to
epare children for collegiate studies.
cktracking several years to 1808, Father
chard established a school near Detroit to
ovide Indian children with a similar education.
White further explains that 12 days before the
aty was signed, Father Richard was appoin-

lawsuit asks that the University provide an
education to the children of the Tribes.
The University's main fear seems to-be that if
Johnson wins the case, hordes of Native
Americans would line up in front of the ad-
missions office to collect their long overdue free
education. Such an occurrence is highly unlikely.
A glance at any one of Michigan's four federally
recognized American Indian reservations would
supply ample support for this claim.
The Isabela Indian Reservation, owned by the
Saginaw Chippewa tribe, is a good example. The
only reservation in the lower peninsula, Isabela
is home to some 320 native Americans. The
reservation was established by the Treaties of
1855 and 1864, and under these agreements the
Saginaw Chippewa tribe received six townships
(640 acres each) in Isabela County. At the time,
most of the land was considered uninhabitable.

at Isabela is making slow but certain progress in
battling the problems of stereotyping, unem-
ployment, substandard housing, health care, and
alcohol/drug abuse. Moreover, the reservation
study showed that 86 per cent of the Native
Americans view the reservation as a good place
to live. The report states "this positive attitude,
with respect to the reservation, should enhance
opportunities for progress."
But the problems of the Indian reservations
revolve around education or the lack of it. White
recently posed an interesting question: If the
"The best way to restore
dignity to the tribes is to
fulfill the original promises
made to the tribes in the
treaties and agreements of
former years, " he (Vine
Deloria) writes. As Richard

vice president of the University. Father
chard's strong commitment to the education A FTER MORE THAN 100 years of finagling
the Indians, plus his position with the Univer- and a few corrupt federal Indian affairs
a y are important factors in White's contention agents had passed, the reservation is down to a
t the three tribes gave the land to the Univer- mere 450 acres. Isabela doesn't resemble the
y in exchange for education. It has been con- reservations often depicted in Hollywood
ded, in fact, that Article 16 was a direct result movies. There are no gates to keep people out or
Father Richard's work with the tribes. in, and there are no teepees. Were it not for a
On April 30, 1820 an "Act for the establishment single sign on Route 20, almost no one would
an University" was enacted by the Michigan know it was there.
rritorial government. Section 8 of the Act According to a study done on the Reservation
ted in part "that the three sections of land, by tribal officials, in 1976 the median income per
anted to the College at Detroit by the Treaty of family was about $5,000. The lack of available
rt Meigs . .. shall be vested in the said work for Native Americans in Isabela County is
stees, agreeably to the terms of the grant, at crisis proportions. In 1976, the Michigan
bject, nevertheless, to the uses, trusts and unemployment rate was pegged at 10.2 per cent.
In Isabela County the figure was 7.1 per cent,
while in the Indian community the unem-
ployment figure was 34.7 per cent.
But the Regents told John- A major factor in employment is education.
on that no such trust existed. The study shows, however, that only 46 per cent
of the Indian community have graduated from
hey said the land was an high school with only an additional 8 per cent
having reached college. A young woman who
tright gift. The Regents lives on the reservation said high school drop-
aid they had acknowledged outs were a common phenomenon in the com-
munity. The woman, a first-year college student,
he gift in 1932 by passing a said most parents don't force the children to go
' c..to school and most of the kids feel they are
esolution in recognition of abused by racism from white classmates and
his, first benefaction received teachers.
The report on the community stated that 18 per
y (the University)." ' cent of the community admitted to having an
alcohol problem and 4 per cent a drug problem.
eposes for which the same property was gran- But several sources on the reservation said the
given, conveyed, or promised." problem with alcohol and drugs, especially
This is a key point in the case. White alleges marijuana, was much more severe. The reser-
Ssection, drafted by Lewis Cass, clearly vation is about ten miles from Mount Pleasant, a
tablishes existence of a trust. Therefore a small college town less than half the size of Ann
bstees the Reents of the Us.erefoe, as Arbor. But other than the limited entertainment
omised in the treaty, free educais owe, th the town provides there seems to be little else for
ildren of the Chippewa, Ottawa and the young to do. And with little hope of attending
tawatomi tribes. Since the lawsuit was filed college because of the prohibitive costs, many
eRegents have maintained that a trust does young residents of Isabela take little or no in-
exist and that the land was a gift to the terest in school. So there is little hope for change.
versity. The alcohol/drug abuse problem, the fact that
young Indians have little to do has worked again-
Sometime after 1825 the Regents sold the land st the tribe to produce occassional conflicts with
$5,888 to help finance the struggling Univer- the non-Indian community and the police. The
Y. Johnson has.charged that the Regents have white man's stereotype of Indians coupled with
egal duty as trustee to account for the monies poor news media representation of the Native
eived from the sale of the land and profits Americans has often induced a distinctly
lized from investments of those monies. negative reaction toward Native Americans in
hnson contends the money should be used to the community at large.
ucate Indian children. SPITE problems with stereotyping, a bet
the basis of the preceding events the tereducated, more organized Tribal Council

Lafr ambois e said-
"Honor-above all
Honor."

else

University had fulfilled the duties of their trust
100 years ago, "what would Isabela look like
today?"
Richard Laframboise, a Turtlemountain Chip-
pewa, defines the dispute surrounding the
Regents' trusteeship as a question of "honor."
He said the Native Americans who signed the
1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs were honorable men -
they fulfilled their part of the bargain and expec-
ted their counter parts to honor their commit-
tment.
Laframboise stressed the importance of
education to the Native American. "Without
knowledge you march to the beat of somebody
else," he said. "We want to be able to choose our
destiny."
Whenasked what differences a free education
at the University would make when there are so
many high school drop-outs Laframboise said
"at least you're affording them the oppor-
tunity-then he has the choice."
Most non-Indians view Native Americans as a
minority group, with the same aspirations as
blacks, chicanos, and oriental-Americans. But
Vine Deloria, Jr. a Standing Rock Sioux and
author, says Native Americans view themselves
as members of an independent nation, which,
although weak, should be granted international
recognition.
In his book, Behind a Trail of Broken Treaties,
Deloria insists that the government has not
solved a single American Indian problem,
because they have taken "dignity" away from
the Indians. Until dignity is restored no lasting
progress can be made by the United States or the
respective tribes. "The best way to restore
dignity to the tribes is to fulfill the original
promises made to the tribes in the treaties and
agreements of former years," he writes. As
Laframboise said: "Honor-above all else
Honor."

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