For those accustom to my usual topics about urbanism and D.C., permit me a brief digression about a University of Michigan “leadership” society with a controversial history, that recently re-named themselves from Michigamua to The Order of Angell.
The Ann Arbor blog Left Behind in the Fishbowl has posted what appears to be a copy of lyrics of a song written to be used during initiation rituals by Michigamua/Order of the Angell, titled “YMCA (Pride 2008)”. Whether or not the document is authentic of a sophisticated parody, it makes for hilarious reading.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about Michigamua/Order of the Angell because they just inducted new members. Readers of this blog will know I think the group should be abolished since it is a shameful blemish on the history of the University of Michigan, but I won’t belabor the point. I think my views are a quite reasonable conclusion based on my research. It seems some basic history is a good starting point.
1. At its founding, the group created an elaborate invented mythology using their views of Native American culture, which they proceeded to use for nearly 100 years.
2. For 90 years of their history most internal communication (including all newsletters) was in a stylized speech (see below for examples)
3. The group first admitted women in 2000
4. The organized had privileged space in the Michigan Union from the 30s until 2000, had close relationships with administrators for many years, and even at one point had a special university account for their finances. For years, they used university property outside downtown Ann Arbor for special events.
5. They agreed to abolish all references to native American culture in 1989, however the tower occupation revealed numerous objects and a wigwam retained by the organization
Whether it is even possible — or even desirable — to whitewash this history with a quick name change I think is an open question. This is not to mention the appropriateness of having such a group with such an elitist past (and present) claiming to act “for Michigan.”
Here are the new members, from the Daily:
“Pride of 2008”
-Sarah Banco – Women’s soccer
-Lindsey Cottrell – Women’s soccer
-Steve Crompton – Dance Marathon
-Lindsay Davis – Women’s golf
-Alessandra Giampaolo – Softball
-Sam Harper – College Democrats chair
-Michael Hart – Football
-Jen Hsu – Co-chair of the Michigan Student Assembly’s LGBT commission
-Nellie Kippley – Women’s gymnastics
-Matko Maravic – Men’s tennis
-Doug Pickens – Baseball
-Randal Seriguchi – VP of the National Pan-Hellenic council, MSA
-Sejal Tailor – Multicultural Greek Council president
-Alex Tisdall – ROTC
-Tyrel Todd – Men’s wrestling
-Alex Vanderkaay – Swimmer
-Zack Yost – MSA president
-Michael Cromwell – A capella
-Nicole Wojcik – Marching Band
-Anup Shah – IASA
-Rohan Patel – Dance Marathon
-Kelly Sanderson – Women Engineers
-Gervis Menzies – Residence Hall Association
Here’s some images I pulled from my collection:
Induction ritual photo and account from 1960s
This letterhead was used well into the 1970s. Ironically, this copy contains notes from a meeting where negotiations with Native American students was discussed.
Note, donations from this 1980s fundraising letter are payable to a “University of Michigan — Michigamua Account”
Objects discovered in the “wigwam” during 2000 Student of Color Coalition occupation.
> Michigan Daily: “After seven years, group recognized by ‘U’ once again”
> Michigan Daily: “The secret society that lived: New name alone can’t cover blemishes of a shady past”
> Michigan Daily: “Jim Toy Viewpoint: To build a bridge” (Community member describes why he is working with group)
> Native American Student Association — Michigamua “Guide to Understanding”
> The Order of Angell Maize pages entry
> The Order of Angell website
> Michigamua Members: 1999-2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 (For previous years just drop me a line, I have a printed directory going all the way back to 1902)
> Previous Michigamua Posts
Rob, I’m going to take the bait on this one. I would argue that for all intensive purposes Michigamua has been abolished. Every tenet of the organization, from its name, mission, policies, etc. has been changed. The war is over. Congrats: you’ve won. New and recent members deserve to stop being punished for the sins of their forefathers, especially when they’ve done just about everything possible to atone.
Rob: Thanks for keeping this alive.
Chris Miller: Suffice it to say, I disagree.
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