” … [Melissa Lopez] Pope said she and others have stepped forward over the years to protest the groupís stereotypical use of drums, loincloths, headdresses and the taking on of “Indian names.”
Native American students and Michigamua members have gone to the negotiating table multiple times to discuss these improprieties, Pope said, but Michigamua violated agreements. While she said they no longer hold offensive initiation rituals on the Diag, issues such as the name of the group still remain.
“It got to a point where it was made very clear that what they would never give up was their name,” she said, referring to past conversations with members of Michigamua. Many Native Americans see the groupís name as disrespectful and as just another “pseudo-relation” to the culture, Pope said.
She said she was committed to trying to change the environment for future Native American students, and to increasing the Native American presence on campus.
Discussion between audience members arose following her speech ó passionate words from students opposed to Michagamua as well as from three Michigamua members, who said they attended the event out of curiosity and interest.
Confronted with accusations about his group, LSA senior and Michigamua member Sean Carmody stood up in the back of the Angell Hall auditorium to voice his opinion.
“We’re here for one thing, to fight like hell for Michigan through Michigamua. Itís about us working together through our organizations to improve this University to the best of our ability,” he said.
While Carmody recognized that there are some people who are still upset with past events, he said the organization looks to the future while remembering its history.
“I just want it to come across, the truth, that weíre not a racist organization,” he said. “We donít want this stigma to be a part of our organization 20 years from now.”
Another Michigamua member, who would not give his name, told the crowd of more than 50 people that Michigamua practices have changed. While he doesnít feel the groupís name should change, he said Michigamua is involved in a different kind of pursuit.
“I donít dismiss what happened but I am taking the stance that this happened and that things have changed,” he said. “We’re moving in a different direction, and I want to be part of that moving in a different direction, I want to be part of that movement.” … “