The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe will be honored by Central Michigan University next weekend as grand marshals for homecoming celebrations.
This is not the first year CMU extended an invitation to the tribe to act as grand marshal, but it will be the first in which there was no scheduling conflict.
“Our tribal community is very diverse and eclectic in its interaction with the greater community,” Tribe Public Relations Director Frank Cloutier said. “I think it’s rather appropriate that the tribe as a whole can enjoy this distinction.”
CMU Executive Director of Alumni Relations Marcie Otteman said as grand marshals, the tribe and its representatives are tasked with a variety of roles throughout the upcoming homecoming weekend.
“All of our grand marshals have similar opportunities,” Otteman said. “We tried to expand that a little bit this year with the tribe, just because of the unique sense of what they can bring to it.”
Otteman said this year, the grand marshals are invited to attend the Rock Rally in the evening on Friday, Oct. 18.
There, the announcement of the homecoming gold ambassadors will be revealed. Tribe members will then be invited on stage, where the student body will present them with a gift.
The grand marshals then attend Saturday’s breakfast gathering at Powers Hall, which takes place before the start of the homecoming parade.
There, tribe members will connect with the gold ambassadors and University President George Ross, as well as his wife and the alumni board president, with whom they will ride with in the parade, Otteman said.
The homecoming festivities then move on to the alumni village, where the tailgating event lasts from noon-3 p.m.
“We’re really excited,” Otteman said. “We believe it’s going to be a great few days with the tribe here supporting us and being part of all of the festivities.”
Before opening kickoff, the tribe is scheduled to perform a ceremonial drum blessing for both teams. At halftime, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian’s Executive Council will join Ross for a special on-field event, Otteman said.
Cloutier said it was remarkable that in an age of mascot controversy, CMU and the tribe have managed to celebrate the strengths as a people without the inappropriate activity of transforming a people into an object such as a mascot.
“CMU and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe have become that example of how to rise above intolerance and ignorance and be the better example,” Cloutier said.