By SUSAN FIELD
Clare Managing Editor
A somber group of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members on Thursday brought some of their ancestors home.
A sunrise ceremony at Central Michigan University’s Special Olympics building was followed by a procession of Tribal members bringing the remains of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal ancestors and funerary objects that were returned to the Tribe from CMU’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History.
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“The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Central Michigan University share a long and proud heritage of mutual respect,” said Pam Gates, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Science. “In honor of the proud culture, heritage and history of the indigenous people of this region, CMU will rightfully return the remains of Saginaw Chippewa tribal members in its possession to their families for proper burial.”
Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Dennis Kequom said said he was humbled by CMU’s commitment to returning ancestral remains to the Tribe.
"I am very proud of what we have gathered here to do today and humbled by the care, understanding and sensitivity that Central Michigan University has displayed in the time it took to bring us to this point,” he said. “This historic event marks a new direction in our efforts to repatriate all of our ancestors.
“It is my hope for our Tribal community that other institutions throughout Michigan and elsewhere follow the lead of Central Michigan University. There are so many people to thank and we will have ample time for that over the course of these next two days. Today we proudly reclaim our own and return them home.”
View the video of the procession and interview with tribal spokesman
May this victory serve as inspiration and precedent to all those who are still fighting to have their ancestors remains returned and reburied with dignity. I particularly take it as inspiration today as we work on reburial issues for the ancestors in the Tara-Skryne.
Previous post on repatriation efforts for the Saginaw Chippewa ancestors:
- Is your grandmother’s skull in a box in a stranger’s closet?