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Genesis of Concern

By the middle of the 1960's a growing realization occurred that a very significant problem existed. This realization grew in large part from successful efforts by a newly energized Indian community to voice perceived treaty rights and demand their enforcement. By 1968 one part of this new assertiveness on the part of Indians involved claims regarding the right to free college education at state institutions of higher learning.

Many voices asserted that Native Americans were entitled to a free education at state supported colleges and universities. Governor's Commission on Indian Affairs, which had been founded in 1965, took up this issue. In the late 1960's the Commission increasingly served as an advocate for Native Americans, with education being one of the issues it championed.

The voices and agencies speaking out on this issue were not without impact. In 1969 a bi- partisan group of four legislators from the State House toured state Indian reservations to assess conditions. Education was among the item's on the tour agenda. Perhaps as a result of this tour, one of the four legislators, Representative James Bradley of Detroit, in 1970 introduced a bill that, had it passed, would have set aside $50,000 to pay for the education of Native Americans "beyond high school." Despite Bradley's efforts, in the end the state government did not act in the early 1970's.