MARQUETTE – A Native American leader who participated in an armed standoff in British Columbia and was granted political asylum in the United States, will speak at Northern Michigan University on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

James “O.J.” Pitawanakwat will speak about aboriginal rights and how he and others fought to preserve those rights in Canada. His presentation is scheduled at 6 p.m. in Whitman Hall room 136. O.J. is an Anishinaabe Ottawa Warrior of the Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, Canada. He was one of 25 who participated in the armed standoff. The Canadian government tried and convicted him and he spent two years in federal prison.

After his release, he came to the United States and was apprehended by police. O.J. was tried by the Supreme Court, who found him to be a political refugee and refused to export him back to Canada. The court ruled that he was merely defending tribal sovereignty. O.J. is the first Native American to be granted political asylum in the United States to protect him from the Canadian government.

To learn more about his story before the event, visit For any questions about his appearance at NMU, contact Martin Reinhart at 227-1296 or

Prepared By
Miriam Moeller and Kristi Evans
News Director