Michigan natives create Anishinnabek Caucus: Looking to be “more visible in the political arena”

Andrea Pierce, a citizen of Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, is active in the Democratic Party of Michigan and serves as a precinct delegate. But when she went to party conventions, she noticed low participation from native people. That concerned her, as other groups had caucuses, like the Hispanic caucus, the LGBT caucus, or an environmental caucus.

She decided to create an Anishinaabek caucus (as most Michigan natives are Odawa, Ojibwe or Potawatomi, collectively known as Anishnabe), and asked Pokagon Julie Dye to be a part of it.

“I thought, ‘I can do this,’" said Dye. “I have more time and this a really good cause. It gives voice to Native people. There's never been a Native caucus, Republican or Democrat, in Michigan before. This is a good thing.”

Dye serves as secretary on the executive board of the Anishinaabek Caucus and says it will support concerns and issues from Natives, and not just federally‑recognized Natives. She says she wants native voices considered in decision making that affects natives, to basically to have a seat at the table.

“We have a lot of Native people in Michigan. We're here to benefit all of them, and Democrats and Republicans as well. The things that we're working on a lot of times will benefit all of them.”
This caucus is part of the Michigan Democratic Party, but Dye says she would welcome a Republican Party Native caucus. Among the caucus’s concerns are assaults on sovereignty and treaty rights, education, and the environment.

“We have bills that we're going to be finding sponsors for in the Statehouse,” Dye says. “One is a bill which would make wild rice Michigan's official grain. Along with that comes protection for the waterways and environmental protections.”

The caucus is building membership. Members must be a legal resident of Michigan, be a member of the Michigan Democratic Party in good standing, and be at least 16 years of age. To be a member of the executive board, you must be a member of a federally‑recognized tribe from Michigan.

“We're going to recruit and train Native people to run for elected office and be appointed to boards, commissions, and committees that report to the governor,” said Dye.

Pokagons can find boards with vacancies below. Some with openings include:

  • Michigan’s Women’s Commission
  • Michigan Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity
  • Michigan Tax Tribunal
  • Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Michigan Board of Nursing
  • Liquor Control Commission
  • Public Safety Communications Interoperability Board

Applications can be submitted here. And you can find more information on the Anishinaabek Caucus by emailing Anishinaabekcaucus@gmail.com or by following them on Facebook.

List of Vacancies

MDOT
Michigan Aeronautics Commission
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 5/27/19
Parameters: Statute does not specify any parameters of the seats
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

DTMB
Public Safety Communications Interoperability Board
16 members, 4-year term
3 seats expire 4/30/19. 
Parameters: Local emergency first responders (all three seats)

LARA
Board of Boiler Rules
9 members, 4-year term
3 seats expiring 6/30/2019
Parameters: 1 mechanical contractors in the state with experience in installation, piping, operations, or repair of boilers; 1 general public member; 1 organized labor in the state and engaged in the design, erection, fabrication, installation, operation, repair, or inspection of boilers. 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science
9-member, 4-year term
2 seats expiring 6/30/2019. 
Parameters: 1 member of the general public; 1 member to represent professionals.
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Board of Nursing Home Administrators
9 members, 4-year term
1 seat expires 6/30 /2019
Parameters: Represents nursing home administrators
Not subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 1 member to represent Real Estate Broker and Salespersons; 1 member to represent the general public. 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Collection Practices
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 1 professional member; 1 member of the general public.
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Liquor Control Commission
5 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/12/2019
Parameters: Statute does not specify any parameters of the seats

Manufactured Housing Commission
9 members, 3-year term
6 seats expire 5/9/2019
Parameters: 1 manufacturer of mobile homes; 1 licensed mobile home dealer; 1 operator of a licensed manufactured housing park; 1 operator of a licensed manufactured housing park; 1 elected official of local government; 1 resident of a licensed manufactured housing park.
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate
Note: There is also a vacancy representing an organization whose membership consists of mobile home residents.  This spot has been vacant since 2012

Michigan Board of Athletic Trainer Board
11 members, 4-year term
4 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 2 representatives of general public; 2 representatives of athletic trainers 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Acupuncture
13 members, 4-year term
3 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 2 will represent acupuncturists; 1 will represent the general public
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Audiology
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: Must be audiologists
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate
Note: 1 partial term vacancy, term ending 6/30/2020, general public seat. 

Michigan Board of Counseling
11 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 1 representative must be engaged primarily in providing counseling techniques, behavior modification techniques, or preventive techniques to clients; 1 representative must be engaged primarily in teaching, training, or research in counseling. 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Dentistry
19 members, 4-year term
6 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 2 dentists; 1 general public member, 1 dentist with health profession specialty; 1 dental assistant; 1 dental hygienists. 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Marriage and Family Therapy
9 members, 4-year term
4 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 3 licensed marriage and family therapists; 1 member of the general public. 
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Nursing
23 members, 4-year term
8 seats expire 6/30/2019. 
Parameters:

  • Registered professional nurses with a master's degree engaged in nursing education in a baccalaureate or higher program
  • Registered professional nurses with a master's degree from an accredited college with a major in nursing engaged in nursing education in less than a baccalaureate program
  • Registered professional nurses without a baccalaureate engaged in professional nursing practice or nursing administration
  • Professional registered nurses without a baccalaureate degree engaged in nursing practice or nursing administration
  • Professional registered nurses without a baccalaureate degree engaged in nursing practice or nursing administration
  • 2 Public Members
  • 1 Licensed practical nurse

Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Optometry
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: Both are general public seats.
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Pharmacy
11 members, 4-year term
4 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 3 pharmacists; 1 public member
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Board of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
9 members, 4-year term
4 open seats; 3 seats expire 6/30/2019 
Parameters: 1 public Member; 1 podiatrist; 1 physician’s assistant
1 partial term vacancy, term ends 6/30/2022.
Parameters: Must be a podiatrist

Michigan Employment Relations Commission
3 members, 3-year term
1 seat expires 6/30/2019
Parameters: General Public
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Public Service Commission
3 members, 6-year term
1 seat expires 7/2/2019
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Tax Tribunal
7 members, 4-year term
2 vacancies
Parameters: 1 CPA; 1 General public
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission
11 members, 4-year term
1 seat expires 6/5/2019
Parameters: General public
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

State Board of Accountancy
9 members, 4-year term
2 seats expire 6/30/2019
Parameters: 1 member of the general public; 1 CPA
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

State Plumbing Board
5 members, 3-year term
1 seat expires 6/30/2019.  Requirement:  Licensed master plumbers securing permits.  Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

MDHHS
Certificate of Need Commission
11 members, 3-year term
2 seats expire 04/09/19
Parameters: 2 representatives of hospitals
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Michigan Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity
12 members, 3-year term
4 seats expire 6/21/19
Parameters: 1 representing low income person; 1 representing elected public official; 2 representing community action agencies
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate

Civil Rights
Michigan Women’s Commission
15 members, 3-year term
5 seats expire 7/15/19
No parameter on the seats
Subject to advice and consent by the Senate