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Giving thanks to three tribes

Frank EttawageshikScholar, artist, former tribal chair of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Ojibwe, and Michigan alumnus Frank Ettawageshik intones a traditional Native American courting song to begin his remarks at the dedication ceremony for a historical marker commemorating the 1817 gift of land to the University from three Michigan tribes. ˝All night long I am gone, all night long I am gone, over the great river I am gone,ţ Ettawageshik then translated. These words are appropriate for the day that celebrates those who courted knowledge, he said. ˝Non-Indians thought we needed education,ţ he said. ˝We did seek the knowledge that we needed. ... One way we did that was through the foresight of our ancestors who gave gifts of land [to universities]. ... The voice in that song represents thousandsäthose of us here and our ancestors.ţ

The commemorative plaque, located on the Diag between the Chemistry and Natural Science buildings, acknowledges the gift of land that was given to U-M═s precursor, the University of Michagania, and later sold. Proceeds from the sale provided a significant portion of the U-M═s permanent endowment. ˝The University expresses publicly and for all time our gratitude to the People of the Three Firesäthe Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadimi,ţ said Regent Katherine White. ˝Without their most generous gift of nearly 2,000 acres, perhaps the University of Michigan would still exist in some alternate reality. But it certainly would exist in that reality a much smaller and less significant entity.ţ

Presedne Coleman &  Gary KrenzPresident Mary Sue Coleman chats with Gary Krenz, special counsel to the president; Frank and Rochelle Ettawageshik; and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa representative Tom Peters just before the Nov. 21 ceremony. In addition to Ettawageshik and White, the event included remarks from Coleman and Prof. Howard Markel, the George E. Wantz Professor of the History of Medicine and acting chair of the U-M History and Traditions Committee. After reading the text of the plaque, Coleman turned her focus to the present: ˝While these words speak to the past, today we are walking together into the future. As we embark on that walk, the University is reaching out to our current student leaders, staff and faculty to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to Native American students and communities.ţ Coleman said increasing numbers of Native Americans on campus make ˝our diverse academic community more complete, at all levels.ţ (Photos by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)

Related story: Native American Heritage Month>



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