Wesaw Appointed to US Civil Rights Commission in Michigan


Matthew J. Wesaw, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and former chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, will be sharing his knowledge on civil rights at the national level according to an announcement recently.

Wesaw was appointed to serve on the United States Civil Rights Commission’s Michigan Advisory Committee – a two-year appointment that began January 29.

“Michigan has a long, proud tradition of being a leader in civil rights,” Wesaw said. “I look forward to joining with other state leaders to continue to advocate fairness, equality and justice for all people.”

The tribal citizen has been director of MDCR since November 2013. Before taking on the director role, he served on the Michigan State Police force for 26 years – six of them with the Michigan State Police Troopers Association. He has also been involved in tribal politics, serving as tribal council member, vice chairman and chairman.

Wesaw has worked with three governors, all of which appointed him to different commissions within the state. Gov. John Engler appointed Wesaw to the Commission on Indian Affairs and the Community Service Commission. Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed him to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission – serving for eight years, including chair from 2010 to 2012. Gov. Rick Snyder appointed him to the Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention Committee.

Created out of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the USCCR has for the past 58 years been “an independent, bi-partisan federal agency whose mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance the enforcement of federal civil rights laws,” according to a press release. A total of eight commissioners, with half of them appointed by the President and the other half appointed by Congress, make up the USCCR. The commissioners appoint citizen volunteers to 51 State advisory Committees (all 50 states and the District of Columbia) who assist in fact-finding, investigating and information sharing.

The MDCR also announced the appointment of long-time MDCR employee Donna Budnick to lead the newly-appointed Michigan Advisory Committee. Budnick worked with MDCR from 1997 to 2007 as the American Indian Affairs Specialist, was reappointed and asked to serve as chairperson.

The first meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee is expected to be scheduled soon.

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