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Committee Meeting Minutes 10.31.2022

October 31, 2022

2-3:30 p.m., Zoom

In attendance:

Amy Bradield, Mark Harvey, Amanda Ward, Sandra Clark, Larry Wagenaar, Steve Brisson, Eric Hemenway, Dan Truckey, Karen Marrero, Matthew Jaber Stiffler, Brian Egan, Kelly VanWormer

Amanda Ward announced as America250MI Program Coordinator. Amanda introduced herself to the group. She will start on Wednesday, November 9.

Theme Discussion (Large Group)

  • Group liked the narrative before the questions, it sets the stage.

  • Kelly VanWormer asked if there should be an introduction before the themes and the group agreed that there should be something.

  • We need to be explicit about this being a commemoration, not a celebration (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Eric Hemenway supported this idea because for many Native Americans the actions during the American Revolution and after are not celebratory. Something could be added to the main introduction that answers “What does it mean to commemorate?”

  • Suggestions for Unfinished Revolutions: include women’s struggles, make sure to include more recent revolutions and not focus too much on the American Revolution.

  • Suggestions for Power of Place: Introduction should include the importance to understanding your community’s past and stories that have been told and not have been told (Sandra Clark). Remove the word “indigenous” from the second to last question so it says, “How can various group’s past and present connection to places and environments inform our understanding of historical developments and contemporary challenges?”

The question came up about if we wanted to include all 5 themes in the AASLH field guide or if we thought we could combine, rework, or needed to add anything. The group discussed that “Doing History” should be kept but decided to break up into two groups to discuss “We the People” and “American Experiment.”

We the People Subgroup:

At first, the group thought that some of the “We the People” questions could be moved to fit in other themes.

From Daniel Truckey: The populace of America has always been diverse but many of its people were not included in democracy. Over the past 250 years, we have progressed to be a more pluralistic society, where all citizens have a voice and can effect change. Obviously, we have a ways to go but I think that our growth is something to celebrate.

For me, this is connected with the idea of identity. We all have identities within the American experiment. We are American, but we are also different ethnicities, races, faiths, regions, languages, etc.

The group responded positively to this comment and thought that we should focus on the idea of what it means to be American and that people can identify with more than one group or community. The group also thought that this theme will be accessible for students in K-12 schools and for teachers to incorporate in their classroom. By adjusting it to be identity, rather than people, it may foster deeper discussion and may resonate with more people.

Don’t use question four: “When and how did different groups of people gain the status of citizenship and what rights and responsibilities did that include?” It would be more appropriate to discuss how the US and Michigan constitutions did this through the years.

American Experiment Subgroup:

Discuss the idea of citizenship and who could be a citizen. Cited the Michigan 1850 Constitution and its provision for “civilized” Indians and continued to leave out women.

The group discussed education materials including a theme on civics including exclusion of specific groups.

Other potential questions to pose included Who gets to be an American? Who gets to be a citizen? How does a state get to be a state?

The group discussed the notion that the American Experiment goes bad for many people and that we need to discuss both sides of the experiment. There is an intentional omission of tribes, disenfranchisement of numerous groups. The US needs land. Indigenous fought over land up until 1899. The American experiment usually discusses the mechanics of democracy, not the exploitation of people and resources by the new government.

Other ideas included creating a timeline of “democracy” compared to other groups? How did it affect them?

Create a timeline exercise. Have multiple timelines and discuss how they intersect.

How are the various groups labeled? They are not considered human (savages, redskins, and the same happens to immigrant groups).

The two groups got back together and shared what was discussed.

Next Steps:

Take the notes we have from this meeting and work on general introductions and remaining theme drafts. Mark asked how people preferred to give feedback and after a discussion it was decided that we would send drafts out about three weeks before our next meeting and ask people to provide feedback by writing or editing the documents. Those suggestions would be compiled and another draft would go out about a week before the scheduled meeting. People would then share comments at the meeting.

Amanda will be in touch soon about finding a time to meet virtually in January. In person meetings will most likely be in spring or summer.

State Committee Partner Guidelines

Amy Bradfield shared that she reached out to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio to see if they have started any guidelines for promoting or endorsing programs, projects, or events from community partners. Guidelines were shared from Pennsylvania, which Amy showed to the group and will send by email to the committee. The hope is that we can use these to help build something for our committee to use. New Jersey is currently working on guidelines and will share when they are ready. Amy did not receive a response from Massachusetts or New Jersey.

Communications Update

  • Social media account initial messages will wait until we have a website ready so people have somewhere to visit. Working on a website will be a priority task for Amanda Ward.

  • My 250 Story concept

    • A way for the public to share their stories. MHC has ways to collect stories from people.

    • Could run parallel with the themes

    • This is a good way to collect (and share) people's perceptions, thoughts, and ideas about the semiquincentennial

    • The committee could come up with a list of questions and people could share their answers on social media or through videos. We would need to have a way to approve submissions before they were shared to the general public.

    • We may be able to front load some of these to help people understand the themes.


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