Street Talk: Tribes, WMU band together

Pure fun.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians collectively are offering a new pathway for tribal members and partners to develop skills in tribal administration with the addition of a tribally endorsed course to Western Michigan University’s MPA program. 

“The course will serve not only as an introduction to tribal governance but will also allow people to start looking intimately at different aspects within tribal governance and how they link to federal recognition and nation rebuilding,” said Pokagon Tribal Council Secretary and course instructor Sam Morseau. “This course is a testament of building collective knowledge and learning like we have done since time immemorial.” 

The spring 2022 course, titled “Tribal Governance: Sovereignty through Self-Determination,” was proposed by the tribes following WMU’s 2019 Land Acknowledgement Statement recognizing the lands on which the campus is located as historically occupied by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodéwadmi Nations.

WMU continued its affirmation of Indigenous sovereignty and the Native experience through two years of planning and development of the course with tribal leaders.

Modeled after a one-of-a-kind Tribal Governance MPA program created by The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, the course will focus on Indigenous leadership, the path to federal recognition, nation rebuilding and sustainable sovereignty in relation to the three Potawatomi tribes.

The new course introduces theoretical and practical applications of governance from an Indigenous perspective. This includes challenges faced by public administrators in understanding the sovereign status of tribal nations, which have demonstrated substantial social, economic and political resilience since the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975.

Students will review historical trends affecting local tribal nations and articulate how roles in government-to-government relationships impact policy decision-making and administration. Students also will develop skills in tribal administration by reviewing programs and services provided by a local tribal nation and are encouraged to provide a capacity-building proposal for consideration.

“Who were the leaders and advocates that solidified legislation and helped each one of the three bands establish recognition with the federal government? How do we as growing and rebuilding nations balance all of the duties of not only governance but economic diversification and turning sustainable futures for our nations and tribal citizens? 

“It is our hope that with our combined collaborative partnerships and relationships, we continue to build upon the successes that we’ve had in terms of long-term sustainability, not only for the university but also for our tribal nations,” Morseau said.

The course will be offered from 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 11-April 26. Registration is open now for members of the three tribes. Each tribe has seven seats reserved for early registration before the course opens to other WMU students.

Registration information is available by contacting NHBP Higher Education Specialist Andrea Rainer at or (269) 704-8356, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Education Resource Specialist Kristie Bussler at or (269) 782-0887, Gun Lake Governmental Affairs Officer John Shagonaby at or (269) 397-1780 or Gun Lake Education Director Jannan Cotto at or (269) 397-1780.

Home for the holidays

While rising vaccination rates against COVID-19 have increased travelers’ comfort levels, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday season, according to a new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) conducted by Morning Consult.

The survey found that 29% of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33% are likely to travel for Christmas — an increase from 21% and 24%, respectively, compared to 2020. Those who do plan to travel over the holidays expect to drive, but rising gas prices may dampen those plans.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 1 by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings include the following:

  • Just one in three Americans plans to travel for Christmas (33% likely to travel, 59% unlikely), and even fewer plan to travel for Thanksgiving (29% likely, 61% unlikely)
  • 68% of Thanksgiving travelers plan to stay with family or friends, while 22% plan to stay in a hotel
  • 66% of Christmas travelers plan to stay with family or friends, while 23% plan to stay in a hotel
  • 52% of Americans say they plan to take fewer trips and 53% plan to take shorter trips due to rising gas prices
  • Leisure travelers are making several adjustments to their travel plans based on the current state of the pandemic, including only traveling within driving distance (58%), taking fewer trips (48%), and taking shorter trips (46%)
  • Among parents with children under the age of 12, 41% say the availability of vaccines for kids ages 5-11 will make them more likely to travel
  • 68% of Thanksgiving travelers and 64% of Christmas travelers plan to drive, compared to 11% and 14%, respectively, who plan to fly

“While vaccines have helped travelers feel more comfortable, rising gas prices and continued concerns about the pandemic are making many Americans hesitant to travel during the holidays. Despite a slight expected uptick in holiday travel this year, hotels will continue to face economic fallout from the pandemic, underscoring the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act, to support the industry and its workforce until travel fully returns,” said Chip Rogers, American Hotel & Lodging Association president and CEO.

Tourism winners

West Michigan showed well this month at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Detroit.

“The best in tourism awards honor those individuals and entities that go above and beyond in making Michigan a top travel destination, and this year we also recognize several individuals and organizations that stepped up to help keep our residents safe during a global pandemic,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

West Michigan honorees included an innovation award for the city of Battle Creek for its World’s Longest Breakfast Drive-Thru, in which cereal makers and dairy farmers collaborated on serving free breakfast to hundreds of people; legacy awards to Pfizer and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing for their work on the COVID-19 vaccine; and the Pure Award to the Lakeshore Art Festival, a collaboration of public and private partners including the city of Muskegon, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Visit Muskegon (Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Muskegon Museum of Art and many local businesses.

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