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State could commission a study into a traumatic chapter of Michigan history

Stewart Indian School students are seen in a classroom in Carson, Nev., in an undated photo. The state of Nevada plans to fully cooperate with federal efforts to investigate the history of Native American boarding schools.
Stewart Indian School students are seen in a classroom in Carson, Nev., in an undated photo. The state of Nevada plans to fully cooperate with federal efforts to investigate the history of Native American boarding schools.

The state could commission a study into a traumatic chapter of Michigan history.

The governor’s budget recommendation includes money for a study on Native American children forced to attend boarding schools in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

A proposal pending approval by state lawmakers would set aside half a million dollars for research into the schools. The Michigan-wide inquiry would be done in conjunction with a federal study into Native American residential schools across the country.

Former students have reported widespread abuse at the schools, which were designed to eradicate indigenous culture.

Erik Rodriguez is public relations director for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. He says the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada has drawn attention to the legacy of such institutions.

“I think as they continue to find remains, both in the residential schools in Canada, and maybe throughout the United States, the issue becomes more mainstream people really want to understand one first what this part of history was.”

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe owns the site of a former residential school in Mount Pleasant. Members are weighing plans to repurpose the space. Ideas include a museum and a memorial wall.