Partiers tell Native American elder to 'get the f*** out of here' during Native American party

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) students rallied last week in support of increasing efforts by their school to punish peers who dressed in Native American costumes, painted their faces red, and cursed out a native elder of the Omaha Nation after he confronted the April 11 party. 

At the off-campus party, as many as 20 EMU students allegedly wore headdresses and other garb and painted their faces red to resemble the mainstream portrayal of Native Americans.

According to the Ypsilanti Courier, the Native American Student Organization (NASO) said they will not accept silence or allow the incident swept under the rug. Students held a rally on April 22 asking for university to increase its investigative efforts and for the students responsible to step forward.

Nathan Philips, an Omaha Nation member, native elder, and one of the rally attendees, told 7 Action News that he walked past the party on April 11 and told the partiers he was offended by their behavior. The students yelled at him to, “Go back to the reservation, you F-ing Indian, get the F out of here.”

“The Native American man alleged he was sworn at and was hit by a beer can. I think those incidents could call for some kind of civil law investigation,” Aly Basley, an economics student at EMU, told Campus Reform.

Basley argued that those involved with the incident should work as volunteers on nearby reservations as retribution, but only “after some kind of trial to make sure the truth is told since currently people are judging from only the Native American man's words.”

Amber Morseau, president of the school’s NASO claimed that although she appreciates EMU and local police opening a formal investigation, it doesn’t fully address the incident. In fact, she argued that the university email sent to students informing them of the situation undermined the event.

Kay McGowan, the only Native American professor on campus, spoke to each of her classes following the incident explaining the culture of erasure (one culture dominating another) and racism. Within the week she received an email from someone identifying himself as "John Smith" telling her the Native American community was overreacting to the events on April 11.

More than 20 years ago, the school’s Hurons mascot was changed in response to efforts by four Native American women who found it disrespectful. NASO students are dissatisfied with the administration’s handling the situation and are upset with the reappearance of the Hurons logo at EMU.

NASO representatives requested students involved in the incident to come forward with a public apology. Local police and the administration at EMU are working together to find the students at fault.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BethanySalgado