The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 7, 2004 - 9A
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University's natural history museum to retrieve
sacred relics and ancestral remains.
Now, as the museum leadership recognizes
the importance of cooperation with the Native
American community in developing its exhib-
its, both sides have begun altering the displays
But despite these measures, problems over the
museum's depiction of Native Americans still lie
in some of the exhibits that are still on display.
Recently changes have been made to alter the
messages of the dioramas by including labels
with the names of the tribes they are depicting
and also adding information which tells visitors
what the specific tribe is now doing, said Amy
Harris, director of the museum.
Rackham student Veronica Hutchinson, who
is from the Ojibwe tribe and is also helping to
update the exhibits, said highlighting this issue
are the dioramas which she says are remnants of
outdated exhibits that misrepresent Native life
and should no longer be on display.
"Sometimes they give (people) the impression
that we are gone. But they also give them the
impressions that those are the real Indians, that
modern Indians are not descendents of the real
Indians," she said.
"We have taken some intermediary steps, but
I don't think it addresses the issue," she said.
"We really want to emphasize this message, that
Native people are still here. But dioramas are
really a controversial subject and a lot of Natives
don't want them here."
How to resolve the diorama issue is still
unclear. While Harris said it is possible that in
the future they will be put into storage, she also
added that dioramas could be used to attack the
issue of historical Native American stereotypes,
by displaying them as dated exhibits of Native
American people wrongly portrayed in the past.
In spite of their flaws, completely removing
the dioramas would be going too far, said Lisa
Young, museum research scientist. While in the
past, the dioramas have construed a mispercep-
tion of Native people, the dioramas do accurate-
ly portray what Native American life was like in
the past, she said.
"We recognize that when we did the labels it
was a Band-Aid on the issue. ... But to contextu-
alize them, to have a larger exhibit around them,
rather than have them (displayed in a block)
together, that would be better."
Still, Hutchinson said their anthropological
accuracy does not offset the misperception they
"I think they don't present how Indian cul-
ture really is. They still represent a concept that
Indians can't change, they always have to be the
same. It's cultural stasis," she said.
Besides the added label to the dioramas, the
museum has also recently added a Pow Wow
exhibit as an example of how the Native Ameri-
can culture persist and is very much alive today,
But underlying this issue is the fact that Native
Americans are depicted in a natural history
museum, where museums have always held an
image of depicting cultures long gone, Hutchin-
The problem is "putting (Native American)
in a museum with dinosaurs, dead animals and
plants and not having any way to explain why
they are in there - the idea that Native Ameri-
cans are all gone, that's what they are going to
pick up," she said.
And the long-term effect will influence gen-
erations, she added.
"Whether we like it or not, museums are used
very heavily as teaching tools by public school
teachers. We sent out generations of children
with stereotypes in their minds."
Regardless of their strategies to remedy the
issue, money and time have added to the obsta-
cles in revising the museum exhibits. So far
all the changes made to the exhibits have been
through volunteer work Young said.
"With budget cuts all over the University, to
redo the exhibits the way we would like too, it
would take thousands of dollars," she said.
Yet for Hass, money should not be an issue.
The University should create a museum solely
for Native American people, she said. Not only
would it help alleviate a problem American
museums have wrestled with for centuries, but
it would also demonstrate to Native Americans
how indebted this University is to them.
"It would be great if there was a museum for
itself, since the University is built on Indian
land. It would be wonderful."
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displaced residents into lounges in South Quad
Residence Hall. Overton said they planned to
move the students into alternative spaces should
the outage extend into the night.
LSA sophomore Jenna Tocco said after the
power went out, hallway lights stayed on for
a while. "And then all the hall lights went out
and it got real scary," she said. She added that
RAs and DPS officers went door-to-door, telling
people that they would be fined if they did not
Overton said while students were encouraged
to leave, they were not evacuated. She said that
anyone who was found wandering the halls was
encouraged to go back to their room or leave the
building, for their own safety.
Sgt. Gary Hicks of DPS also said he had not
heard of a move to evacuate the residence hall.
He said they were being asked to "just go to
sleep and stay out of trouble."
Some students found their last-minute home-
work efforts hindered by the outage. Engineer-
ing sophomore Sara Zak said her roommate was
Frieze to be replaced
with new residence hal
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studios, classrooms, seminar rooms or a small audi-
torium in the same building. Residential suites and
academic offices would be separate, but they would
most likely share a marketplace-style dining hall.
These common spaces are meant to facilitate random
or "serendipitous" interaction between students and
faculty, Harper said.
The new hall would not be restricted to film
and video majors, Harper said, but it might attract
students with similar interests.
As for the departments currently housed in the
Frieze Building, their fates will vary. The theater and
dance departments will move in 2006 to the Walgreen
Drama Center - still in construction - and Arthur
Miller Theater on North Campus. The University
administration was considering this move before it
chose the Frieze Building as the site of the new hall.
By moving the two departments to North Cam-
pus, they will be closer to the School of Music,
their umbrella college.
The Provost's Office will make relocation
plans for the other affected units: Film and Video,
Communication Studies, The Center for Judaic
Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Asian Languages
and Cultures and Linguistics.
There are no definite plans yet to replace the
smaller, intimate theaters in the Frieze - both
the Arena and Trueblood theaters - but some
administrators have mentioned having a similar
space in the new hall.
University Housing Director Carole Henry said
the administration is now remaining flexible to
a number of ideas. But Coleman's task force of
residential life will meet Sunday to discuss some
"We're building not just for today but for the
future," Henry said.
The new hall will be paid for by University
Housing and the central administration, both of
which operate as separate entities. Housing will
pay for residential portions and the administra-
tion will fund the academic spaces.
The University considered several locations in
choosing the new hall, including the parking lot
between West Quad and Blimpy Burger and vari-
ous spots on North Campus.
But Coleman said the Frieze Building was
ideal because of its proximity to the shops on
State Street and academic buildings.
It was meant to signal to students that expand-
ing housing is an important issue in her presiden-
cy, she said.
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Alger said he is looking forward
to his new position. "This is a great
opportunity to go to Rutgers and to
lead a legal office at a large public uni-
He said he will be the head of the
university's legal office and he will
also be a member of the president's
Alger's colleagues said they will
miss his presence at the University,
but they also said they are happy for
him. "It's our loss and Rutgers's gain,"
said communications Prof. Anthony
Collings, a former CNN court report-
er, who helped handle communications
for the lawsuits.
University President Mary Sue
Coleman said she acted as a reference
for Alger when Rutgers was consider-
ing him for the position.
"I admire him so much, and we'll
really miss him. I'm so pleased for
him," Coleman added.
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versity to help implement future pro-
posals and get students involved in the
new phase of relations between student
organizations and the University.
"He really distinguished himself in
the Supreme Court cases," Peterson
said. She said it is common for fac-
ulty members to show their excellence
at the University, making them more
appealing for other positions.
"I'm extremely happy for him,"
Marvin Krislov said, vice president
and general counsel, who holds the
same position here that Alger will
be taking at Rutgers. "I think he's
done a spectacular job here from
everything from affirmative action
to intellectual property to his teach-
ing. He's been incredibly effective
in his work on campus, and he'll be
missed," he added.
Krislov said the General Counsel's
office has not yet begun to search for a
replacement. "We're still digesting the
news," he said.
Alger said Rutgers has many simi-
larities to the University of Michigan,
particularly in that it is a large pub-
lic university with a commitment to
diversity. "And their football team is
getting better," he added.
"I think this is one of those opportu-
nities that students and the administra-
tion are working successfully together
to make life easier on student groups
that have consistently demonstrated the
ability to follow the rules," said MSA
President Jason Mironov.
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