Meet the Grand
For the first time ever, CMU has granted an entire nation
the distinction of homecoming grand marshal.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe will serve as grand
marshal this year and celebrate its relationship with the university that
carries its name during homecoming weekend. Among other festivities, the grand
marshals will offer a drum blessing for both football teams prior to the game
and will lead the homecoming parade.
The two entities share a storied relationship, emerging from
strained relations early in the 1960s into a new era of diplomacy and respect,
says tribe spokesman Frank Cloutier.
That change was ushered in with an articulation agreement
between CMU and the tribe in 2000, which “detailed the respect that each entity
had for one another.”
“We’ve come a very long way in a very short time,” he says.
“There are other universities throughout the U.S. that have Native American
jurisdictions that are actually looking to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
and CMU as a model.”
Today, the tribe and CMU have collaborated on various projects
— from tribe professionals regularly giving lectures and seminars at the
university; to an agreement that encourages tribal college students to attend
CMU; the university’s proactive repatriation of Native American remains back to
the tribe; a mentoring program that sends CMU students into tribal schools; and
a new course curriculum that explores the history of Indian Boarding School.
“There’s always this ongoing exchange,” Cloutier says. “We
walked into an era of diversity and strength.”
As for being named grand marshal, Cloutier says, “It’s an
honor and a privilege. For the tribe, it’s always a very strong sense of
appreciation to be recognized for the work we do and for the involvement we
have in the community. It’s a very proud distinction, and we consider it a