NASA shield
pics of ndn people panel 2

History of AIUM

Native Land Gift Which Made UM

In 1817, the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi, Shawnee, and Wendat (Huron), inhabited most of what is now Michigan's Lower Peninsula. In the fall of that year, a treaty was signed between Michgan's Territorial Governor, Lewis Cass, and the Native tribes. In the treaty process, Governor Cass persuaded the Natives to cede 3840 acres of land, half of which was earmarked for St. Anne's Church, and half for "a college at Detroit" in which the Natives would be eligible to enroll.

While the territory had planned for a statewide school system centered on a university, no specific funds were allocated and no formalization of the plans to ensure eligibility for the university land was done. Judge Augustus Woodward, Father  Gabriel Richard, and Reverend John Monteith finally drafted the act that founded the University of Michigan. The government appointed officers and commissioned a building in Detroit in 1821, but no classes were held due to the lack of qualified students.

In 1837, land developers in Ann Arbor offered 40 acres on the edge of town as a new home for the University. The original Native land gift was sold and Michigan courts have since held that the proceeds of that sale remain part of the permanent endowment of the University of Michigan.

Text from the commemorative plaque found on the UM Campus:

'This plaque commemorates the grant of lands from the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewadimi (Potawatomi), through the Treaty of Fort Meigs, which states that "believing they may wish some of their children hereafter educated , [they] do grant to the rector of the the Catholic church of St. Anne of Detroit ... and to the corporation of the college at Detroit, for the use of the said college, to be retained or sold, as the said rrector and corporation may judge expedient ... " The rector was Gabriel Richard, a founder and first vice president of the corporation of the college, chartered by the territorial legislature as the University of Michigania in 1817. These lands were eventually sold to the beneift of the University of Michigan, which was relocated to Ann Arbor in 1837.'

For more information visit: See also: Jim Beck, “On the Original Native land gift that made UM, Office of the Vice President of Communications, online at

Birth of Powwow

In 1972, the local Native community held the first Ann Arbor Powwow in a field just outside of town. It continued on as a small traditional powwow to raise funds for the newly created, Native American Student Association. Over time, the Ann Arbor "Dance for Mother Earth" Powwow has become one of the most celebrated gatherings of Native American and First Nations peoples. For the past several years, powwow was held at the University of Michigan's Crisler Arena due to its growth in popularity. It attracts numerous well-known and established dancers, singers and artists, as well as thousands of spectators. For the past three decades, the Ann Arbor Powwow has provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about and experience the culture and the peoples of our Turtle Island.

In 2008, the Ann Arbor Powwow Committee turned down direct funding from the Division of Student Affairs. For a copy of the letter stating the committee decision and rationale, please click here. The 2009 Dance for Mother Earth Powwow was held at Saline Middle School in Saline, MI. For more information please see the powwow website:

Creation of NAS minor

The University of Michigan founded a Native American Studies program within the Program in American Culture in 1983, but only in recent years has it had the human and financial resources to make an impact on the campus. In 2004, Nickole Fox became the first student ever to graduate with a Native American Studies Minor at the University of Michigan. The program has grown rapidly since then. It now has ten faculty members with tenure-track or tenured appointments.

The program places American Indians at the center of broader inquiries into the nature of human confrontation with intrusive power. Faculty and students work together to explore, through the humanities and the social sciences, varieties of Native Americans experiences and the centrality of Indians to American history, literature, religion, politics, law, economics and the list goes on.

The Native American Studies Program organizes conferences, seminars and public events in American Indian Studies. It offers an Interdisciplinary minor in Native American Studies (15 credits, total).

Please visit for more information.
Visit,2034,1944_article_10352.html for course offerings.


In 1902 Michigamua was created as a secret ‘honor’ society whose purpose was to “serve the University”. The name was supposed to mimic the name of a tribe, which Michigamua pretended to be. Their ‘service’ included routine pseudo-ceremonies that consisted of covering themselves in red paint, defacing University property, violently abusing one another and appropriating the use of sacred Native American religious objects while University officials participated. Additionally, each new member is given a name that is derived from Injun-English, the racist depiction of supposed Native American speech. Examples of such names include: ‘Great Scalper’ Yost, ‘Squaw-Teaser’ Schmid and ‘Wise Chief’ Hutchins. In addition, Michigamua was granted exclusive access to the tower of the Michigan Union. Their use of the tower included abuse of sacred Native American religious objects.

Native students at UM have been battling against this organization and its racist traditions for decades. In 1989, an agreement was signed between Michigamua, the Native American Student Association, and the student government that Michigamua would cease all usage of Native artifacts and reference to Native and pseudo-Native culture. In 2000, members of the Students of Color Coalition (SCC) discovered that the tower was structured as a pseudo-wigwam, filled with both authentic and mock objects such as drums, a cradleboard, and sacred pipes. SCC members found photographs of the Pride of 1996 abusing these objects seven years after Michigamua’s 1989 agreement to end all references to Native cultures and pseudo-culture. They occupied the tower for over a month until Michigamua was expulsed from the tower.

Another victory for Native students came in 2007 when Michigamua changed its name to The Order of Angell after one of their founding members, and former University president, James B Angell. They also began releasing the names of their previously secret membership. There is no way to be sure if The Order of Angell or “The Order” has actually ceased all reference to Native and pseudo-Native culture because their meetings still take place in secret. Communication between Native students and Michigamua/The Order of Angell is rare due to the amount of pain and anguish Michigamua has caused the Native community. Still, many believe progress can be made in removing the group from campus and healing much of the pain that has been caused. added edit confirm.

Updated 30-oct-11