BY VICTORIA EDWARDS
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 6, 2005
In a bid to stymie the recruitment of the secret society Michigamua, the Native American Student Association and latino fraternity Lambda Theta Phi sponsored an event aimed at exposing shortcomings of Michigamua yesterday.
Some members of the two organizations holding the event alleged Michigamua members retaliated outside of the gathering by circulating posters criticizing the mascot of Lambda Theta Phi as racist.
Named “Michigamua Exposed,” the event was held in the Chemistry Building and attempted to reveal the racist nature of Michigamua by detailing the secret society’s replication of ritualistic Native American ceremonies.
With the end of the semester nearing, Michigamua is currently in the process of recruiting new members, said sponsors of the event. As a result, now is the ideal time to strike the secret society, they added.
Recently, Michigamua drew ire from student organizations in two events. In 2003, the president of the Multicultural Greek Council joined the secret society, causing three Latino fraternities to drop out of the council. The second instance occurred in 2004 where Student Voices in Action — a coalition of multicultural student groups — protested the use of putting Michigamua on official transcripts.
Matt Stehney, NASA co-chair, said the purpose of the program was to keep Michigamua and its racist practices in check.
“We need to keep having (presentations like these) so (Michigamua) knows we’re not slacking off, that we’re still here looking for them. When they think we’re slacking off they’ll re-emerge,” said Stehney, who is an LSA senior.
These past controversies and others were explained at the presentation that began with a documentary shown for the first time to the public that captured members of Michigamua — a group whose name in itself is a play on a Native American name — dressed up as Native Americans in red brick paint. The movies were taken presumably from the 1950s and showed, among other things, members of Michigamua tearing each other’s clothes off and covering each other in red paint.
Three speakers, Mellissa Pope, Jujan Buford and Stehney, talked after the movie screening. Pope and Buford were both involved in the 2000 Tower takeover, when members of the Student of Color Coalition — an organization that aimed to remedy problems facing the minority community — occupied the tower in the Michigan Union where Michigamua had its headquarters.
In the process, they claimed they found Native American artifacts that they said Michigamua used in mock ritual practices.
The consensus among the speakers was that they had already tried to deal unsuccessfully with Michigamua through dialogue starting in 1972, and they were now pursuing means of open confrontation.
“(Dialogue) only benefits them. … We heard about Vicky Barner (the first person to file a lawsuit against Michigamua) who tried to change them and it didn’t work. At this point we’re not trying to change them — we’re trying to crush them,” Stehney said.
A spokesman for the secret society who goes by the name Nick said that Michigamua would be willing to pursue an open dialogue with the Native American Student Association.
“Michigamua is open to dialogue. There are misconceptions about the group and we’d be open to neutral representation so folks from both sides (can) discuss the issue,” Nick said.
He added that the group does not want to perpetuate pain in any community. Nick said that the name issue is something that they are willing to discuss through dialogue.
Historically, Michigamua has tried to pursue dialogue with the Students of Color Coalition, dating back to the publicized tower occupation in 2000, Nick said.
“Prior to the occupation, Michigamua attempted to dialogue with the leader of the SCC, but he or she refused,” he said.
Nick added that both sides were at the table when they were in negotiations after the Tower occupation, but the isolated event was all that was discussed, and the greater issues were not touched on.
Michigamua also claimed to know nothing about the posters that were hung outside of the chemistry building attacking Lambda Theta Phi, an adamant supporter of NASA and co-sponsor of the “Expose Michigamua event’. “
The posters criticized the Lambda Theta Phi mascot the conquistador, because of its association with massacring indigenous people.