American Indian Law & Issues
11:41 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Northern Tribal Leaders Call For Apology

Native Americans from northern Michigan are among civil rights leaders asking for an apology from the Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. In a profile in the New Yorker, Patterson compares Detroit to an Indian reservation with a fence around it.

From The Detroit Free Press:

The most charged comment from Patterson, he said, came from more than 30 years ago. The New Yorker quoted him as saying: “I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.”

The former head of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Derek Bailey, says Brooks needs to apologize.

Lee Sprague, former Ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, says they should have built a fence around Detroit in 1785 to keep the white man and his industrial pollution from spreading across the Great Lakes region.

Patterson does not plan to apologize. Again, from the Free Press:

Calls for an apology mounted Tuesday from civil rights activists and Detroit political leaders, but Patterson insisted that “I’m not apologizing because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

He told the Free Press that he was quoted out of context and misled about the writer’s intentions. He said he regretted that the article came out at “this key time” in the region’s efforts to resolve Detroit’s bankruptcy.