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The Michigan History Center has been hosting events titled Rock Your Mocs since 2016. These events take many forms, from film festivals to panels discussions to workshops. Guest presenters from tribes across the state speak with attendees about topics like “Lewis Cass and Indian Removal,” or  “21st Century Michigan Through Native Eyes.”

Why? The goal of these events is to offer a greater understanding of Native people in Michigan, both past and present. Eric Hemenway, Director of Repatriation, Archives and Records at the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians explains,

“Educating the public on Native populations is very important at this time. Right now, Native people are fighting many battles in their communities, from protecting natural resources to human trafficking to combating racism.  These events can help others not only understand Native people, but also provide resources to help.”

These events have been a big hit in the Lansing and Detroit areas, attracting several hundred attendees each year. However, the initiative is not unique to Michigan. Rock Your Mocs has its own history and existed long before these events at the Michigan History Center. Rock Your Mocs began at the other end of the country – in New Mexico – in 2010, as a single-day event to coincide with Native American Heritage Month. Founder Jaylyn Atsye created the event as an opportunity for Native peoples across the country to express solidarity and embrace their identities by wearing moccasins. You can learn more about the Rock Your Mocs Indigenous peoples movement at

In 2016, a partnership between the Michigan Humanities Council, the Michigan History Center, The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, and representatives from Little River Band of Odawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians brought Rock Your Mocs to Michigan. In addition to celebrating Native culture, the event series provides education and resources to inform the broader population about the histories, cultures, and contemporary views of Michigan’s First Peoples. Today, the event series has even more partners – including the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation and the MSU Indigenous Law & Policy Center – which helps surface diverse perspectives and encourages productive dialogue.

Interested in attending a Rock Your Mocs event? The events are generally scheduled every other month and may occur at the Michigan History Center in Lansing, or at various locations in Detroit. Sometimes, they are even live-streamed on the Michigan History Center Facebook page. Rock Your Mocs events are always free to attend and all are welcome. Keep an eye on our calendar to learn more about upcoming programs.

A man and a woman stamp in a conference room chatting with one another. A dozen other adults can be seen in the background, sitting in chairs.
Judy Pamp of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinaabe Culture & Lifeways speaks to a program participant during the Anishinaabe 101 Workshop in November 2016.

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