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    Community Relations Commission encourages cultural sensitivity and respect
    10/12/17: GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A recent insensitive marketing event and upcoming Halloween celebrations have prompted the City’s Community Relations Commission (CRC) to remind residents that sovereign tribal nations and their citizens are not and should never be considered subjects of “costume” opportunities.
    Today, the nine-member commission denounced and discouraged the stereotyping of any individual in our community.
    “The City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission opposes stereotyping and urges all residents to equally oppose the discriminatory and offensive stereotyping of sovereign Tribal nations and their citizens,” said CRC chair Tommy Allen.
    “Grand Rapids strives to be an open, welcome and inclusive community with no tolerance for incidents of bigotry and hate,” he said. “The Grand Valley area is one of the gathering places of the Three Fires, recognizing the tribal nations of Michigan including the Ojibwa, Odawa & Potawatomi nations. The rich history of the Indigenous People of the area includes the Norton Mounds in the City of Grand Rapids. We honor and celebrate the ancestors who populated our great City. The Tribes nations and native people within Michigan and Grand Rapids contribute significantly to regional, community and economic development in our state and City.”
    Recently, a local bar publicized a Bicycle Pub Crawl utilizing the theme “Cowboys and Indians.” The event post read, “Cowboys and Indians theme! Either you’re one or the other!” A variety of media outlets, including Facebook, publicized the event.
    “The event and premise of the event was extremely offensive, insensitive and discriminatory,” Allen said. “We have reached out to the management of this establishment and invited them to meet with us.”
    According to Patti Caudill, the City’s diversity and inclusion manager, social media reaction to this event post was swift. Current and former members of the CRC also contacted the office about this event. Since the event caught the attention of the Community Relations Commission, the lounge decided against the “Cowboys and Indians” theme for their event and changed its theme to “Halloween.”
    “We encourage those attending this event or other upcoming Halloween parties to use cultural sensitivity when selecting costumes,” Caudill said.
    Since 1953, the Community Relations Commission has worked to develop a mutual understanding among all. It does this without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, disability, source of lawful income, sexual orientation or gender identity. As an advisory, operational and quasi-judicial body to the City Commission, the CRC strives to make Grand Rapids a welcoming and inclusive community. Among its many civil rights related duties is a responsibility to investigate complaints of discrimination and related concerns.
    To learn more about the Native American Culture in Grand Rapids, please visit: the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s “Anishinabek: The People of This Place” exhibit or visit the website the following websites:, or .