Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference


We hosted our inaugural Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Baraga, MI) in April 2018. The first conference was a huge success. We had 32 speakers and panelists addressed more than 200 participants on topics ranging from environmental racism, mascots, youth voices in racial justice, and storytelling in Anishinaabe culture. Keep in mind that there was a spring snowstorm that covered the entire Great Lakes during this weekend. Despite treacherous weather conditions Anishinaabe people and allies made their way to the conference. Many of our attendees came from tribal communities within a 200 mile radius but we had attendees come from Anishinaabe communities in the lower peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We also provided a space for walk-in attendees. We had 60 walk-ins during the weekend mostly from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. This conference served as a springboard for the work we had planned in 2018. Additionally, it not only served as a safe and supportive space for Anishinaabe people but a place where we can gather to grow this important work. As a result of this conference, we have built new relationships and collaborations across our territory.

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As a form of decolonization, the conference broke free from the standard Western format, by which the Native Justice Coalition elected to not have a keynote speaker and instead weighed the voices of each attendee equally.  In Anishinaabe culture, ogemaag (leaders) do not make decisions for their community without a full consensus.

We worked in collaboration with the following organizations: Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, Red Circle Consulting, Native Justice Coalition, Northern Michigan University - Center for Native American Studies, Michigan Technological University, Showing Up For Racial Justice - Keweenaw Chapter, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

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We believe in creating a safe and supportive space for Anishinaabe people, all people of color, and allies who support our work.  Native American people have often and historically been left out of discussions on racial justice in the US.  This conference seeks to change this narrative. We seek to center Anishinaabe and all Native American people in racial justice.

Feedback & Quotes

“Being in community with other Indigenous people helps to keep our culture alive; it helps to keep our spirits well and whole. It was incredible to be together with so many other Indigenous people to talk about how to decolonize the world around us, and it was beautiful to feel the love and support from everyone.” - Teiana McGahey - Sault Saint Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

"I loved experiencing our people coming together for racial justice, our youth seeing positive representation of Indigenous people working for a better future. We usually come together for powwows, but this meeting brought us together for justice. The protest is happening at home, and we are a movement,” - Kristy Phillips - Bodewadmi ndependages/Potawatomi Nation)

“I was honored to partake in such a significant event. An array of topics was presented addressing issues that Native people face today. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with professionals of various backgrounds and have a sharing of ideas to take back to our communities.” - Linda R. Cobe - Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Conference Partnerships for 2019

We have secured 10 partnerships for our 2nd Annual Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference taking place in May 2019. These partnerships include: Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports & Media (statewide), Nokiiwin Tribal Council (Thunder Bay, Ontario), Great Lakes Peace Center - (Rapid River, MI), Showing Up For Racial Justice - Keweenaw Chapter (Houghton, MI), Indigenous Law and Policy Center at the MSU College of Law (East Lansing, MI), National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (Minneapolis, MN), Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Houghton, MI), Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Baraga/L'Anse/Marquette, MI), and the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (Baraga/L'Anse, MI). We are engaging with these partners to assist in creating a successful conference. They will direct their help, provide support, and link to additional resources form their respective organizations and communities.

2019 Conference Information

Our call for proposals is out. Learn more about the proposal submission process here - The deadline to submit conference proposals is by Friday 2/15/19.

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