Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Michigamua Exposed

14. December 2005 • Ari Paul
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Student organizers have put together an art show to expose the racist and elitist legacy of Michigamua.

Michigamua EXPOSED!!!!!
An educational art exhibit sponsored by students from Art & Design 310 Thursday, December 15th
9 pm Michigan League Underground

What is Michigamua? Why are they called a “secret society”? Why is
it called racist? Why did students occupy the tower of the Union for
37 days? Who is in Michigamua today??

Find out the answers to these questions and much, much more! See you at Michigamua Exposed on 12/15

Questions? Email MichigamuaExposed@umich.edu
Also check out GoodspeedUpdate.com for an incomplete list of current members and extensive research reports.

*Please forward to interested individuals/organizations



  1. given the plethora of more significant issues on the table, is this show really relevant? i mean, sure, i suppose students need to be informed, but wouldn’t a web resource like rob’s suffice? this whole exhibition strikes me as a fantastic waste of energy. i perceive this issue to have actually eclipsed several other serious ones in recent weeks, and it’s somewhat disturbing to me.
       —maximalist    Dec. 15 '05 - 11:28AM    #
  2. Just attended the exhib, lots of scary photos of old white guys from 1937 dressed as “Indians”, not to mention some more recent joinees…
    Maybe Ari Paul can found Meshuggah-ma.
       —David Boyle    Dec. 15 '05 - 11:15PM    #
  3. ok, i don’t mean to be dense but can someone PLEASE explain to me the evil of this organization. Is it really becuase of what people did in 1937? Becuase if we are stigmatizing groups on that basis – clealry we should be boycotting EVERY single Ivy league institution beucase of their anti-semitism (jewish quotas were prevelent till at least 1960s).

    recent pledge classes have had minorities, and native americans – isn’t it time to let it go?

    Moreover, if the argument is that they are still evil b/c they engage in practices that borrow native american symbolism. can someone explain to me why its bad? seems like immitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
       —David Livshiz    Dec. 16 '05 - 11:02AM    #
  4. livshiz,

    i can give you my response, but i believe it is very different from many people invovled…

    my problem with michiguama is its influence and the past favoritism that it has gotten, the exclusive elitism that is its hallmark…the sit ins revolved around its exclusive space on michigan property to conduct racist rituals as well as the fact that the university was supporting a racist and elitist instutition…if guama is off somewhere, unable to conduct racist rituals because of the public pressure, far off in a basement in ypsi, and its a not-so-secret soceity because people like rob reveal the members, i’m not so much concerned…

    so why AM i still concerned??? in order to make sure that they don’t regain the status i fear, we need to reveal what the organization is about and what it does…perhaps for the same reason why even though universities don’t have quotas for jews anymore, it is not something to be forgotten…

    i guess its that old aphorism, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it…

    never again,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Dec. 16 '05 - 01:56PM    #
  5. See that is EXACTLY my problem. I don’t have a problem with eliticism – when its earned. Members of Michiguama aren’t tapped because they are rich, or white, or what not – but becuase of what they do on campus. I am okay with that – if you earned it, then ok, you earned it.

    As for the exclusive use – they PAID for it. It was largely Michiguama network that PAID for the buidling of hte Michigan unino – if part of their gift to the university was that they get the space in perpetuity – then thats that. I’m okay with it.

    Also – i don’t yet understand what about that which they do is racist. Its immitation – but why is that bad? why is it insulting? Myabe i mam not very sensative, but if someoen decided that they were going ot prettend to blow the shofar as part of hteir ceremony i woudln’t care. So again- i’ve been listening to this for 8 (EIGHT) years – can someoen lay out the actual claims – with an explanation.
       —David Livshiz    Dec. 16 '05 - 07:55PM    #
  6. While I am not Native American, I just finished Anthro 315 (“Native American Peoples of North America”). After speaking with several members of my class who are tribal members, I have a much better understanding of why imitation is offensive.

    One of the biggest problems is that this borrowing suggests that there is one “Indian” culture composed of people who all wear headdresses, say words like “squaw” and speak a homogenized form of English. In actuality, this “Indian” culture never existed in the ways that Western culture portrays it, and it is insulting to Native Americans when people claim to “honor” them in this way.

    In addition, some of the elements incorporated in “Indian” representations, such as eagle feathers, have significant meaning to some tribes. When they are effectively taken out of context and used to represent “Indians” as a whole, this is disrespectful.

    I have taken the following Q and A from a handout called “Human Beings are Not Mascots” by Barbara Munson that I received when I did research at the American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit:

    ”’We are honoring Indians; you should feel honored.’
    “Native people are saying that they don’t feel honored by this symbolism. We experience it as no less than a mockery of our cultures. We see objects sacred to us, such as the drum, eagle feathers, face painting, and traditional dress, being used, not in sacred ceremony, or in any cultural setting, but in another culture’s game.

    ”’We never intended the logo to cause harm.’
    “That no harm was intended when the logos were adopted may be true. But we Indian people are saying that the logos are harmful to our cultures, and especially to our children, in the present. When someone says you are hurting them by your action, if you persist, the harm becomes intentional.

    “What if we adopt pieces of ‘real’ Indian ceremony, like pow-wows and sacred songs?’
    “Though well-intended, these solutions are culturally naive. To make a parody of such ceremonial gatherings for the purpose of cheering on the team at homecoming would multiply exponentially the offensiveness. Bringing Native reltions onto the playing field through songs of tribute…would increase the mockery of Native religions even more than the use of drums and feathers.

    ”’This logo issue is just about political correctness.’
    “Using the term “political correctness” to describe the attempts of concerned Native American parents, educators, and leaders to remove stereotypes from the public schools trivializes a survivial issues. A history of systematic genocide has descimated over 95% of the indigenous population of the Americas. Today, the average life expectency of Native American males in some communities is 45. The teen suicide rate among Native people is several times higher than the national average. Stereotypes, ignorance, silent inaction and even naive innocence damage and destroy individual lives and whole cultures.”

    I can include more Q and A if you like, and invite others to contribute more.
       —Audrey Vesota    Dec. 17 '05 - 11:05AM    #
  7. First, to address the above posting, members of Michigamua fully recognize the fact that imitation of Native culture (especially when explicitly unwanted) is clearly wrong. All appropriations of Native culture have been discarded for many, many years now.

    Also, to let everyone know, the current membership of Michigamua has been taking steps recently to become more open with the hope of clarifying many of the misconceptions out there, and at the very least promoting healthy dialogue. This effort can be seen in our input towards yesterday’s daily news article, and our viewpoint that will be coming out tomorrow. Both can be viewed online at the Michigan Daily’s website. Michigamua has also created a new official website (www.michigamua.org) for those seeking accurate information about the organization. On this site there is a venue for browsers to submit to us any questions or concerns they may have.

    Thanks for your time and interest, regardless of your current perception, in our organization.
       —Brian Hull    Jan. 26 '06 - 04:28AM    #