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Promote the Vote

Engaging Indigenous communities across Michigan to ensure representation during the redistricting process

The Michigan Nonprofit Association invited Miigwech to help engage Indigenous communities - who, as we know, are traditionally ignored or forgotten in policy making, even today - during the State of Michigan's historic redistricting process. On this page, we provide a summary of our 2021 activities.

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Community of Interest Maps

We participated in making 3 Community of Interest Maps to represent the lower part of Michigan where the majority of the Indigenous population lives. These maps were then vetted by Indigenous community citizens who lived in those areas to ensure that the data we received from tribal governments was correct. We had maps with concentrations in Northern Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Detroit. These maps were loaded into the independent redistricting commission database for comment. 

 

For public comment, our community decided to focus on both sovereignty and respecting our traditional ways while doing the good work the independent commission did. We had a selection of talking points to use based on maps that we approved as a community that did not harm our BIPOC relations. 

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Lansing Public Comment, October 21, 2021

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Grand Rapids Public Comment, October 22, 2021

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Gaylord Public Comment, October 25, 2021

Outreach & Engagement

We have received very positive feedback from the Indigenous communities we worked with throughout Michigan on the redistricting project. For many, it was their first time being active in Michigan governmental operations. We had 38 people from 16 tribal nations provide in-person public comments in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Gaylord, and one online.

 

Communities represented:

  • 12 federally recognized tribes: Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa, Saginaw Chippewa Band, Sault Ste Marie Chippewa, Pokagan, San Carlos Apache, Apache, Dine, Pueblo, Arapaho and Western Cherokee Nation

  • 4 tribally recognized bands: Burt Lake Band, Swan Creek Wabinsieibinniwak, Nahuatl, and displaced Ojibwa 

  • All ages, from elders to youth

  • All walks of life: veterans, teachers, artisans, parents, pregnant mothers, and grandparents

The only negative we ran into was our relations in the Upper Peninsula were not able to participate locally due to the commission canceling the only public hearing in the Upper Peninsula. We did note this during public comment to the commission.

We also engaged with media outlets, providing an interview after our first public comment as a community in Lansing. We also highlighted social media in Indian Country with what we were doing for this good work. 

"My community, including myself, really appreciates the Michigan Nonprofit Association inviting and providing us the opportunity to have representation during the redistricting process. It is not often that Indigenous peoples in Michigan are included in such an important process where they know they can make a difference." 

- Meredith Kennedy, Executive Director