Native American Affairs Council

Council Charter

Recognizing that Western Michigan University is located on lands of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadmi nations, WMU seeks to acknowledge and honor this ancestral land of the Three Fires Confederacy, the sacred lands of all Indigenous peoples and their continued presence. The council was established by the provost to advise on outreach and retention strategies for Native students, faculty and staff. The council works to support, elevate and advocate for Native American perspectives at Western Michigan University. The council is committed to fostering strong relationships between the University and Native American communities both on and off campus.  

Council Charges 

Relationship building

Develop and strengthen relationships with tribal nations, Native communities, Native serving institutions and faculty, staff and administration at WMU. Enhance the learning environment, advance social justice and Indigenous-led initiatives. 

Student empowerment

Center voices, decolonize learning and administrative environments, provide holistic and integrated academic perspectives. Advise, support and highlight academic endeavors including courses, curricula and programming. Honor Indigenous knowledge and lived experience. Raise awareness about the Indigenous histories and contemporary communities that are frequently overlooked, forgotten or misunderstood. 


Identify tribal priorities in order to develop ongoing programming. Identify grants and additional financial resources. Create programs to enhance learning and understanding within the broader WMU community, including lectures, videos, exhibits, workshops, conferences, etc. Subjects would include, but not be limited to: art, music, language, law, health and environmental studies. Integrate the above with current courses, curricula and academic units. Work with Native communities, regional and national organizations to develop Indigenous expertise.  

Land and sense of place

Acknowledge the importance of the ways we are grounded and linked to southwest Michigan and the opportunities this place holds for Native students and the broader WMU community. Honor WMU land acknowledgement at the beginning of events and activities to recognize, respect and affirm the ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the land. Embody and exemplify the land acknowledgement in our shared history and current stewardship of campus lands. 

  • Membership

    Fritz  Allhoff—Professor, Department of Philosophy  

    Ben Brenner—Gun Lake representative

    Deanna Bush—Faculty Specialist I - Clinical Specialist, School of Music

    Stephen Covell—Chair and Professor, Department of Comparative Religion  

    Sherrie Fuller—Coordinator of diversity education, Office of Diversity and Inclusion 

    Anderson Hagler—Assistant Professor, Comparative Religion

    Lynne Heasley—Professor, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability   

    Sam Morseau—Pokagon Band of Potawatomi representative

    Michael Nassaney—Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

    Jodie Palmer—Gun Lake representative alternate 

    Staci Perryman-Clark—Director, Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies

    Andrea Rainer—Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi representative 

    Shabanaa Mary Bush—Student and NASO representative

    John Shagonaby—WMU alumni and member of WMU Foundation Board of Directors

    Dee Sherwood—Director, WMU Native American Affairs Council; Associate Professor, School of Social Work  

    Sacelia Strong-Sangster—Graduate student, Interdisciplinary Studies

    Mercedes Tubino-Blanco—Associate Professor, Department of Spanish 

    Skyler Wolverton—Student and NASO representative