GM Baltimore plant manager William Buffalo Tiger spoke at a USA Melting Pot club Lunch and Learn at GM Powertrain Pontiac on Friday, January 30, 2015. Club President Weilou Gao gave a brief introduction of USA Melting Pot. Here are Weilou’s slides.
We had seen Bill Tiger’s post on the GM Fastlane blog regarding Native American issues and invited him to speak.
I knew him from the Northstar engine program, subject of my first GM Fastlane article when the Cadillac DTS went out of production at our Detroit-Hamtramck plant a few years ago. Bill had worked on Northstar engine manufacturing at our Livonia, Michigan plant, and I learned later about his Native background and Miccosukee tribal membership.
Here are the slides from Bill Tiger’s presentation to the USA Melting Pot club on January 30, 2015.
Below is part 3:
American Indian Science and Engineering Society
The GM Native American Cultural Network is active in AISES, attending and co-sponsoring their regional and national conferences. They connect and build relationships with students, partnering with other companies to promote science and technology education.
There is still a long ways to go, as only 0.4% of engineering undergraduate degrees (around 350 per year) are earned by Native Americans, far less than their representation in the U.S. population (about 2%).
Question and Answer
After Bill’s presentation, there was engaging discussion. Asked why his name is Tiger, Bill shared that Europeans have no word for Panther, so his family adopted the most similar European animal name to the Florida Panther.
He said that there is a wide variety of opinions about sports team names among Native Americans. Like many non-natives, many Native Americans find names like Braves, Indians and Redskins offensive. Other leaders such as Peter MacDonald, a former Navajo Code Talker and Chairman of the Navajo Tribe, have been to a Washington Redskins game and do not find them offensive. Bill’s opinion is that there are more important issues than names of sports teams: economic development, health and education in tribal areas, for example.
Economic Development Ideas
Tribal lands are often remote from areas of large industry, making them better suited for Information Technology or other small companies. Perhaps cottage industries similar to Amish cabinetmaking or furniture making (or even auto parts) could locate there.
Science and technology education lags behind, as in many American urban areas. Growing up in Florida, no one in Bill’s family or on his reservation knew an engineer.
FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology) has successfully engaged young people with exciting robot competitions in urban and suburban areas; why not on tribal lands as well? Much less expensive is FIRST LEGO League for ages 9-14, which only costs a few hundred dollars and the time invested in coaching a team. For sure the brainstorming activities are good for any endeavor and would introduce young people to science and math career opportunities.
FLL Project Presentations
The “project presentations” are science projects that are 25% of the scoring for teams, a different theme for each year. This year’s theme was Education, this fall’s theme is recycling. Past years have been Mission Mars, City Sights (infrastructure of cities), Global Warming, and Senior Solutions (ideas for making life easier for senior citizens). Follow links to articles which describe the FLL program. “Racing season” for FLL is mid-September through end of November.
I plan to write an article about how to start an FLL team. Existing FLL teams are invited to post their project presentations and coaching experiences on our USA Melting Pot website. It will give teams a place to post their great work and will give people a place to go to learn about FLL besides the FIRST website. Coming soon, see details on our website in the FIRST LEGO League link under Hobbies & Fun.
Learn More about Native American Culture
There are numerous Pow-Wows all over the U.S. and Canada; everyone is welcome to attend. There you will see traditional regalia, dancing, drumming, food and art vendors. Check out this website for events in your area or the area you will be visiting.
Travelers to Great Smoky Mountains National Park can visit nearby Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina to learn more of the Cherokee Tribe, their written language, and the Trail of Tears.
The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona has many art and culture exhibits, including an exhibit about famous athletes like Jim Thorpe and Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota who won the 10,000 meter gold medal in the 1964 Olympics.
Other museums include the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian), in New York City and Washington DC, and the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York, 60 miles south of Buffalo.
Native Americans have a proud heritage and have contributed a lot to our great country. We look forward to another presentation on the topic at a future Lunch & Learn. Perhaps someone will start a FIRST LEGO League team on tribal lands. The GM Native American Cultural Network is pursuing GM Foundation funding for a FIRST Robotics or LEGO initiative at predominately Native American schools.
Please pass the link to this article on to FLL teams, who are invited to post their project presentations on our USA Melting Pot website. Thanks!
Dale Murrish writes on history, travel, technology, religion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.
Under the skiing topic are places in Michigan to go cross country and downhill skiing.