The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, is calling for a boycott of Lansing-based firm ACD.net, whose Chief Financial Officer Kirk Shewchuck left a voicemail laced with racial slurs and vulgarities after apparently not hanging up his phone properly.
The message was left for Saginaw Chippewa Planning Engineer Donald Seal on May 6.
Public Relations Director for the tribe, Frank Cloutier, said the call from ACD.net was their initial outreach to the tribe to establish a relationship in hopes of gaining access to the tribe’s trust property through an easement for the use of cell phone towers. “Because there was a veiled threat of scrambling our cell use and interrupting our business, the voicemail has been handed over to our tribal police department for further investigation and our legal department is looking into the possibility of filing a lawsuit,” Cloutier said.
Here is the part of the voicemail in question:
“Hi Don, this is Kirk Shewchuck at ACD.net and we wanted to talk to you about our plans to put so many cell towers you know close to the casino there. I think you called in here earlier, again my name is Kirk at ACD.net and my phone number is …. I’d appreciate a call. Thank you, bye.
We’ll see what happens, those f**king Indians let’s call them red man, I was listening to the radio on the way in this morning and you can’t use red man in the paper because…..You know what the f**k you let’s sic the Sault Tribe on you, let’s get a good old fashioned Indian woo woo woo woo woo woo (laughter) around in Michigan the one they would be leery of are Huron Indians – the Huron Indians wiped out most of the other tribes – the Huron’s were the motorcycle gangs, the rest of them were on horses (laughter) I’m serious, the rest of the Indians here were farmers – it’s pretty cool we should put a tribal elder….on the reservation there – we should call them back – I might go up there and go like this….are you the guy – did you hear about the guy with the cell phone camera who got arrested….and then the police walked up to him and it shut off their signal and they couldn’t radio in….Go up to the reservation and so you don’t want a wireless tower here you know what happens to your cell phone signals (laughter) I’ll turn it back on in a few minutes after you agree to – maybe they would like that – you know they can’t talk on their cell phones at the casino they would spend more time there but maybe the opposite would be true and they keep leaving to check their cell phones…wouldn’t that be cool…and their cell phones….
To hear the entire two-minute four second audio conversation, go to www.sagchip.org.
Cloutier said Saginaw Chippewa tribal leaders have refused to honor a request from senior management of ACD.net to sit down and discuss the message after learning that several key executives were part of the phone message, including owner and President Steven Schoen and the firm’s co-owner and CEO Kevin Schoen.
“It was like they called with an attitude of aggravation because they had to deal with us,” Cloutier said. “It’s more than sad – it’s crippling emotionally – [when I was] writing the press release I had to get up and walk away a couple of times.”
Saginaw Chippewa Chief Steve Pego stated in a tribal press release, “In today’s society, tolerance and mutual respect are still goals to be obtained and not what we assume we should have. That in itself is a sad reality. I would ask that all Native Americans and other minority groups stand with us in denouncing Mr. Kirk Shewchuck and ACD.net.”
As a show of solidarity and respect, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Tribal Council Chair, Homer A. Mandoka, instructed all NHBP entities to search their business databases for ACD.net in preparation for a boycott of the company. He said, “I would strongly consider contacting law enforcement because I believe this was beyond slanderous, it’s a motivated hate crime.”
Numerous calls were placed to ACD.net Public Information Manager Joe Ross, who at first agreed to speak with ICTMN at a later time, but would not answer or return further calls. According to an article printed in The Morning Sun, Ross said, “There’s no malice on Kirk’s part. We really want to talk to the chief.”
Kirk Shewchuck, originator of the voicemail, is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Cloutier said in an e-mail conversation with Sault Tribe Chairman Aaron Payment that he expressed his disdain and made it very clear he wanted to distance the Sault Tribe from Shewchuck.
“Obviously he (Shewchuck) has no understanding of his culture whatsoever,” Cloutier said. “It is absolutely inexcusable.”
UPDATE – June 4: John P. Warren, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, in an e-mail stated, “On behalf of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, we too are boycotting doing any business with ACD.net.”