Local Native American man alleges drunken EMU students in “redface,” calling themselves Hurons, told him to “go back to the fucking reservation”

Earlier this past week, I received a note from a reader informing me that a local Native American man by the name of Nathan had been involved in an altercation with a number of drunk and shirtless college-aged men dressed up in “redface” and imitation Native American headdresses. When the man asked why they felt it acceptable to mock his culture, the young men, according to what I heard, told him to “go back to the fucking reservation.” They also said something to the effect of, “We’re the Hurons, not the Eagles,” referencing the fact that, several years ago, the administration of Eastern Michigan University, in response to requests by members of the Native American community, made the decision to stop referring to their sports teams as the Hurons, opting instead for the less offensive Eagles.

While I was able to confirm with the police that an altercation between a Native American man and a number of college students did in fact take place last Saturday, I was not able to locate the man in question, despite having several people out on the street looking for him. [I didn’t want to post the story without first being able to confirm it with the man in question and identify the house/frat involved.] It looks, however, as though Detroit’s ABC affiliate was able to track the man down and find out which house was involved. Here’s their report.

According to their interview with the man, identified by Channel 7 as Nathan Phillips, the house in question is somewhere in the vicinity of Ballard street.

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19 Comments

  1. Lynne
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Why do so many white people have to be such racist jerks?

  2. Posted April 18, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Anyone want to dress up in “fratface”, party on their lawn and show them how it feels to be mocked?

  3. XXX
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Was this a frat thing, or just a bunch of assholes?

  4. JT
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Nathan came to my porch to talk a couple days after it happened. He was really bummed out about the whole thing, which made me really angry. He’s such a kind person, always a positive attitude. He said it was a frat, but it also just may have been regular shitty college kids.

  5. Posted April 18, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    A little more background as to why I didn’t go with the story when it was first brought to my attention. I was told that the altercation took place near Jimmy Johns, on the front lawn of a frat house. As I was also told that it was broken up by the police, I called to see if they could tell me where it happened. Given what I know about frat’s in town, I had my guess as to where it might have happened, but I didn’t want to accuse anyone without first knowing the facts. And, when asked, the police told me that the call had come from a home on North Hamilton, which, according to Google Streetview, didn’t appear to be near any frats that I was familiar with. So, working with people who know Nathan, there was an attempt to track him down, to no avail… I’m just glad that the story has now come out. Hopefully we’ll see some action from the University.

    As for whether or not it was a house party, or a frat party, I’m not sure. The police, however, did tell me the following… “(A) frat was having a ‘themed’ party in which the participants were dressed as American Indians.” So it would appear as though Nathan wasn’t the only person under the impression that this was a frat event. The police felt that was the case as well.

  6. Beth
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The report didn’t address the threats made against Native women students–and neither is the university.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The house is at North Hamilton and Olive.

  8. Gillian
    Posted April 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Ha, i walked past that party, it was a few blocks from my house and very loud. Mostly i was glad they were being loud at 2pm and not 2am. Dumb college kids being dumb, it is sad that it came at the expense of our community though. Nathan Philips does a lot of good work to support native American people and heritage in the area.

  9. J.E.
    Posted April 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Man, this is super depressing. I’ve been running into Nathan since I moved to Ypsilanti three years ago – just one of those people who pops all the time up whether I’m fishing or walking my dog, and it’s always a pleasure. He lived kitty-corner from my new house and was very neighborly to my girlfriend and her son for the years that they lived two houses apart. He’s the kind of person who will smile and nod or stop to talk and pet your dog. I hope he doesn’t take their advice and leave. We want him in Ypsilanti.

  10. Mr. X
    Posted April 20, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    One of the men in attendance at the “Red Face” party is said to have told people that they were engaged in a “ceremony to impregnate women”. So they weren’t just being racist. They were being sexist as well.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/04/college-students-in-red-face-mock-native-elder-claim-racist-party-is-ceremony-to-impregnate-women/

  11. Concerned Reader
    Posted April 20, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    There’s a rumor that this was actually the EMU swim team’s party. Which if true would complicate matters dramatically as to how EMU wants to address it…

  12. Posted April 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Can we stop referring to these assholes as “students” and start publicly naming and shaming them? These are ignorant bigots.

    I hope that pictures get put up and this follows all them around every time they apply for a job, anywhere.

    Certainly, young black offenders don’t get the luxury of being able to hide behind a curtain of white privilege.

  13. Posted April 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    The reporter says “a home on Ballard Street”, but the house pictured prominently in the news clip is on Hamilton, a block away. I’m hoping the reporter got it wrong (“on” vs “near”), and that the camera crew was actually filming the right block, so we’re not catching random other homes in the neighborhood in the crossfire…

  14. Diana Gonzalez
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Native American Student Organization will be making a statement on Wednesday: https://www.facebook.com/events/817450931673855/

  15. Meta
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    A timely story from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Colleges Respond to Racist Incidents as if Their Chief Worry Is Bad PR, Studies Find”

    College administrations react to hate crimes, hate speech, and other high-profile incidents of bias by focusing mainly on repairing their institution’s reputation, two new studies conclude.

    The administrations’ responses generally paper over underlying prejudices in the campus culture, leaving the victims at risk of further harm in the future, argue the researchers, who presented the studies’ findings on Monday in Chicago, at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association.

    “College presidents are willing to address the racist but rarely the racism,” says a paper summarizing one of the studies, based on a rhetorical analysis of presidents’ statements in response to bias incidents.

    Read more:
    http://chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Respond-to-Racist/229517/

  16. Thom Elliott
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Sounds like these boys will be perfect candidates as ‘workers’ in the ‘new’ system of gulags I will be implementing as part of the Nietzschean/Maoist dictatorship of my most beautiful dreams.

  17. facebook stalker
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    From someone to someone else on Facebook.

    “The word I hear is that the students that have been identified are actually facing actions from the university.”

  18. Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    It concerns me that we are so quick to be CERTAIN that the students are assholes when we have only heard one side of the story…. NOT FAIR.

  19. Kjc
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    What’s the nonasshole interpretation of “go back to the reservation?”

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] be talking with Nathan Phillips, the local man who was just recently in the news after having confronted a group of drunken EMU students in “redface” about their racism, only to be t…. We’ll find out from Nathan what happened, what kind of response he’s gotten from the […]

  2. […] Garfield and I could verify the story, and determine where the confrontation took place, though, news of the altercation had already made it to Channel 7 in Detroit, and a protest was being planned for the EMU campus. So there really wasn’t a pressing need […]

  3. […] 11, after having pointed out to them that their face paint and feathers were offensive to him. According to Phillips, they responded by saying something to the effect of, “We are Hurons,&#8… They also, according to Phillips, threw a beer can at […]

  4. […] it would seem, didn’t want to talk about how, since the mascot had come back, there had been reports of drunken EMU students in “redface” taunting a local Native American man, or how it wasn’t, in their opinion, an honor to have their sports teams take the name of […]

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