In the last half of the 20th century, a little known program that still impacts American Indian lives today was administered by the federal government. Called “The Urban Relocation Program” this program created one of the largest movements of Indians in American history. Yet the full scope of this massive social experiment and its impact on multiple generations of Native Americans remains largely undocumented and unexplored.
Called “Gi-gikino’amaage-min: Defend Our History, Unlock Your Spirit,” this project aims to create the first archival collection focused on the urban Native experience in West Michigan. The project represents a partnership among Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Kutsche Office of Local History, Native American Advisory Board, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Special Collections and Archives. This program is funded in part by Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The project will kick off on Thursday, November 13 with a community history harvest from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Northern Health Center, 311 State Street S.E. in downtown Grand Rapids. Free food and refreshments will be provided. Individuals are encouraged to bring photos, letters, or other two-dimensional materials they would like to have scanned for inclusion in the project. The event is free and open to the public.
A “Campus Dialogue” will be held on Wednesday, November 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on GVSU’s Allendale campus in the Mary Idema Pew Library’s Multi-Purpose Room. Part of the Native American Heritage Month celebration, this event aims to increase awareness on campus about the importance of the urban Native experience in Michigan, as well as providing direct ways faculty, staff, and students can get involved. The public is also encouraged to attend this event.
For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/kutsche or call (616)331-8099.