CMU celebrates its partnership with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe during Homecoming

The tribe serves as the 2013 Homecoming Grand Marshall
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Central Michigan University and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe continue to celebrate their partnership during the 2013 Homecoming celebration. As part of the Homecoming celebration, members of the SCIT drum group will perform an honor song prior to the start of the football game against Northern Illinois University. The drum blessing will mark the first time the drums have been played at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

This year, the tribe was named Grand Marshal for the event by CMU’s Alumni Association, making it the first time an entire nation has been granted the honorary distinction.

“CMU has tried over the years to reach out to the tribe, and the tribe has been willing to receive that outreach,” says Frank Cloutier, public relations director for the SCIT.

“That’s why this partnership is so important today,” Cloutier said. “We’d like for CMU to be the university of choice for Native Americans in the Midwest. CMU has shown they’re not only capable of it, but they’re deserving of it.”

CMU actively pays tribute to the community of Chippewas through academic initiatives and involvement in tribal ceremonies. In March, CMU hosted the 24th annual Pow wow ceremony in the CMU Events Center.

In 2010, representatives from CMU and the mid-Michigan community joined the tribe for a repatriation of ancestral remains ceremony, which returned the remains and associated funerary objects of 144 Saginaw Chippewa tribal ancestors to the earth in one of the largest reburials of native remains in the U.S.

Marcie Otteman, executive director of alumni relations, says this year felt like the perfect time to celebrate the partnership between CMU and the tribe.

“It is an honor for CMU to be known as the Chippewas,” Otteman said. “So it’s important that we remember where the name comes from. We’ve been the CMU Chippewas since 1942. When you think about what’s happened over the decades, it’s very important to celebrate the history and culture the tribe brings to the university, the Mount Pleasant community and the entire Central Michigan region.”

Additional elements of CMU’s partnership with the tribe include:

  • CMU and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College signed an articulation agreement that provides easy transfer of credits for tribal college students who wish to complete their studies toward a baccalaureate degree at CMU.
  • Tribal College students are provided full access to CMU’s library, computer labs and other facilities free of cost.
  • CMU and SCIT collaborate on the Niijkewehn Mentoring Program to serve students in grades 5-8 during the 2013-14 academic year.
  • In January, CMU and the SCIT worked together collectively to create a Native American educational area in the CMU Events Center that features art and artifacts from the tribe’s Ziibiwing Center.
  • A representative from CMU sits on the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School Committee.
  • CMU has helped the Tribal College in its efforts to gain a regional accreditation.
  • The Athletics department works with the tribe to sponsor the Michigan Indian Family Olympics.
  • CMU offers courses in the Ojibwe language.

The SCIT will have a float in the annual Homecoming parade and be honored at various events throughout the day. The parade will begin in Parking Lot 22 on CMU’s campus at 11 a.m. and continue through CMU’s campus before heading north on Main Street toward downtown Mount Pleasant.

For a list of other Homecoming events, click here.

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