Eric Hemenway

Equity Education Series Featuring our Indigenous Communities

Above photo: Eric Hemenway, Director of Department of Repatriation, Archives and Records, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

In 2020-2021, Groundwork designed an education series that included presentations from members of the Anishinaabe community, opportunities for small group discussions, and other resources, for our staff, partners and members of the wider community to join us in learning the history, culture, tribal governance structure and successes and challenges facing Indigenous communities today. 

Groundwork used the education series to learn more about our local Indigenous communities, how to be the best partner and collaborator with tribal governance structures, and ultimately to become a more inclusive and anti-racist organization. Our goal, through our work in all program areas as well as our own organizational culture, was to shift power and agency to those communities that historically have been oppressed and continue to face racial inequities today.

Education efforts like this are important tools in the work of undoing white supremacy and the dominance of white culture. Many majority-white organizations in our region have the desire to work more closely with tribal communities, and share similar goals in their work, and have the best intentions, but lack the cultural knowledge and skill required to do so in a respectful way that does not perpetuate historical power dynamics or harm to Indigenous communities. This series sheds light on the ways in which culture and history contribute to the functioning of Indigenous communities today, and help strengthen the abilities of majority-white organizations and tribal communities to work together to improve life in our region for everyone. 

Session descriptions and links:

Michelle Schulte discussing Anishinaabe culture, September 24, 2020

Session Link

Michelle Schulte is an educator and Community-Based Project Director with 20 years experience working for Native American communities in Michigan and teaching cultural diversity in both academic and community settings. She is a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas, was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Leadership Fellow and her education includes a Masters of Arts degree. As an active member of Groundwork Center’s Advisory Board, she continues to work with staff to support the organization’s goals and develop strategies to increase cultural awareness and racial equity.

Eric Hemenway discussing Anishinaabe history and culture

Hemenway Session 1, November 12

Hemenway Session 2, November 19

Eric Hemenway is an Anishnaabe/Odawa from Cross Village, Michigan. He is the Director of Repatriation, Archives and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian, a federally recognized tribe in northern Michigan. Eric works to collect and preserve historical information for LTBB Odawa.

Treaty rights and tribal governance, December 17, 2020

Session Link

Bryan Newland, formally the tribal chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community based on Whitefish Bay near Sault Ste. Marie, shifts the conversation to tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and tribal governance—including current and historic issues that are important to tribes. The intent of this session is to learn more about tribal governance, and how we can be better partners with our nearby tribes. 

Indigenous Agriculture and Traditional Foods Lunch & Learn, February 19, 2021

Session Link

This session is a panel discussion about Indigenous food culture and pathways, and will feature Martin Reinhardt of Northern Michigan University, Joe VanAlstine of Ziibimijwang Farm, and James DeDecker of Michigan State University. The conversation was moderated by Michelle Schulte of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and Groundwork Advisory Council.

Anishinaabe Clean Energy, March 25 2021

Session Link

Groundwork is a community partner in the Michigan Community and Anishinaabe Renewable Energy Sovereignty (MICARES) project, which is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort between Michigan Tech University and Michigan State University. With five years of National Science Foundation funding, MICARES is bringing together sociologists and technical energy researchers (and more) to study how rural communities—including tribal governments—are determining their energy future, especially related to renewables. Both our speakers are active participants in MICARES.

Marie Schaefer is a post-doc at MSU in the Dept. of Community Sustainability. She has worked with Tribes across the U.S. and is of Anishinaabe (Odawa) and settler descent. Marie’s work focuses on braiding Indigenous knowledges and scientific knowledges using community-based participatory approaches. She works to bridge knowledge systems and understand how collaborations between knowledge systems can contribute to sustainable futures.

Chelsea Schelly is an associate professor of Sociology at Michigan Tech. Dr. Schelly’s research explores socio-technological system interactions that shape human conceptions of nature, relationships among humans and between humans and non-humans, and human thought and action. It examines the historical normalization of residential technological systems in America and the ways in which alternative technological systems challenge the social, political, economic, and environmental consequences of those systems.

This series was funded in part by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

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