Order of Angell

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The Order of Angell is a senior honor society at the University of Michigan. Known for a brief period as the Hot Air Club and subsequently known throughout the remainder of the twentieth century as Michigamua, the organization officially renamed itself the Order of Angell in 2007 in an effort to move beyond its controversial past. The organization was created in 1902 by a group of seniors in coordination with University president James Burrill Angell.

Some factions on campus identify the Order of Angell as a secret society, but many dispute that characterization. For most of the organization's history, its membership was publicly identified in the campus newspaper and yearbook; in the 1970s, however, when the group started performing its rituals in private, it effectively became a secret society for some years. Since then, the group's degree of secrecy has fluctuated year-to-year, with some classes appearing in the yearbook and others remaining unknown. Since the 2006 reforms, the Order of Angell has made a policy of keeping the roster public each year.

The group purports to be a service organization, whose goal is to "fight like hell for Michigan," although members have declined to specify exactly how they serve the University, citing a tradition of "humble service."

The group played an instrumental role in building the Michigan Union. It is also known to have had a hand in forming several prominent campus charity and service organizations, such as K-grams and Dance Marathon. In 1932 it was granted a permanent lease for space in the tower of the Michigan Union, although the group left the tower in 2000. The tower remains empty today because it does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

Other similar societies currently in existence at the University of Michigan include a co-ed group called Phoenix, and the engineering-only group known as the Vulcans.

"Michigamua" and Native American issues[edit]

In its former identity "Michigamua," derived from a fictional Anishnaabe tribe, the organization had been criticized for its past practices of wearing imitations of Native American regalia in public rituals during yearly initiations of new members. There was public controversy over their mocking use of items such as "peace pipes," drums, and totems, which are sacred to many Native American religions.[1][2] Many called such displays cultural appropriation or remnants of the United States' colonial legacy, while others argued that it was a way of showing respect for the University of Michigan's Native American roots. In response to outcry from the Native community, the organization stopped using Native American rituals publicly in 1972, and stopped all pseudo-Native American practices in 1989. That year, the organization signed an agreement with representatives from the Native American Student Association agreeing to abandon all Native American cultural references in their rituals and initiations.

In 2000, a group of students called the Students of Color Coalition (SCC) occupied the tower and the organization's offices. During the SCC's 37-day occupation they discovered the interior of the tower painted to depict a Wigwam and historical items of Native American origin in a storage attic. While these items were bought legally throughout the society's history by its members, the items were deemed inappropriate by the SCC. Members of the organization asserted that these archival items had been unused and stored away for years. Some believe that the Native American archival items were staged on the table of the room, while others believe the items were in possession of the group. Neither account has been confirmed. The members of the organization agreed to vacate the tower of the Michigan Union, and the Native American items were distributed to various Native tribes.

Recent reforms[edit]

After the organization agreed to stop using Native American practices in 1989, some members began to slowly steer the group toward progressive reforms. By the late 1990s, each class included at least a few progressive members. Today, most of the Order's members are either athletes or progressive campus leaders.

In April 2006, the group released a list of its most recent members and stopped using the name "Michigamua." In the following year, it chose the name Order of Angell, after founding University president James Burrill Angell, as its new name, despite supposed reservations expressed by some members of the Angell family.

Along with announcing its new name, Order of Angell announced in February 2007 that it would register as an official University student group and that it would institute a policy of releasing the names of all new members in the future. The group also released a list of its active honorary members. (This had been a sticking point for some on campus, who had criticized the group for releasing a list of its current members while keeping its honorary members secret.) As of February 2007, Order of Angell's active honorary members are Michael Brooks, executive director of Michigan Hillel; Jim Toy, a long-time LGBT and social-justice activist; and Rich Rogel, co-chair of the University of Michigan's Michigan Difference fund raising campaign.

Prominent members[edit]

(most of the administrators and coaches who were members were honorary members but were never members of Michigamua as students)

Political figures[edit]


University of Michigan administrators[edit]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

Patrick Russell LeBeau (2001). "The Fighting Braves of Michigamua: Adopting the Visage of American Indian Warriors in the Halls of Academia". In Deloria, Vine; King, C. Richard; Springwood, Charles F. Team Spirits: The Native American Mascots Controversy. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 109–128. ISBN 9780803206304. 

External links[edit]