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United Tribes of Michigan meet with Gov. Snyder at Tribal-State Summit

Joseph V. Sowmick - May 12, 2014

On May 12-13, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (SCIT) served as host for the twelve federally recognized Tribal leaders and their delegates at the annual United Tribes of Michigan (UTM) meeting held in the Three Fires Room at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.


Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Steve Pego welcomed the delegation during the opening ceremonies with a prayer offered by Tribal Council Chaplain Jennifer Wassegijig.


“It is always an honor to host our fellow Tribes and to have our Council able to talk with the other Tribal leaders,” Chief Pego said.  “Tribal issues are best addressed with the elected officials present and to have Gov. Rick Snyder be a part of these discussions demonstrates the state government’s willingness to be an active participant in the dialogue.”


Gov. Snyder agreed there are many issues that the state and the Tribes can work together on and there is “a volume of things that are out there and the pipeline is very large and it is hard to keep a track what it out there.”


Tribal Public Relations Director Frank Cloutier and his staff took the lead role in coordinating the UTM Tribal-State Summit logistics and welcomed the efforts made on behalf of all the Tribal leaders present.


“The opportunities and collaboration that is brought to the table during the State/Tribal Summits are very helpful,” Cloutier informs.  “When you have leadership from the State of Michigan and the twelve Native Nations you have clear communication and can easily identify likeminded issues to be discussed.” 


Gov. Snyder did commend the Tribes and their support of environmental issues and the efforts that United Tribes represent on consolidating their voice in chorus on issues that affect all the citizens of Michigan.


“We appreciate the efforts the Tribes are making to develop new leaders and offering internship opportunities to work within the government,” Gov. Snyder acknowledged.  “I believe we can offer some fruitful opportunities to students who work like to work with the Office of the Governor and the State Legislature.”


Former Little Traverse Bay Band Chairman and current UTM Executive Director Frank Ettawageshik indicated in minutes obtained by the Tribal Observer the UTM Resolution (#033) that supports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) American Indian Environmental Office Programs. Other UTM action included a motion ““that the United Tribes of Michigan opposes the continued use of the “Redskins” name by the Washington, DC, NFL football team.”


Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Chairman and current UTM President Homer Mandoka personally thanked Tribal Chief Steve Pego and the Tribal Council for hosting the Tribal leaders and their delegates.


“On behalf of the UTM delegates, we are honored to have the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe be a gracious host for such an important event,” Pres. Mandoka said.  “Being located in the center of the Lower Peninsula makes the travel arrangements easier and the hospitality given through the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort deserves high marks.”


The Tribal-State Summit visit marked the second occasion a State of Michigan Governor has visited a UTM function hosted by SCIT on the reservation.  The former Gov. Jennifer Granholm visited the Tribe at the 2008 annual UTM meeting.


During the closing remarks, Chief Pego shared a traditional teaching of how water is important to the Tribe and he was joined by his fellow Council members as they presented Gov. Snyder with a beaded Tribal logo necklace made by Tribal member Theresa Jackson.




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