It’s all about relationships

Our colleagues in Michigan State University Extension are working to build strong and sustainable relationships with members of Michigan tribal nations.

In the program Relationship Building for Better Partnerships: Anishinaabe Tribes and MSU Extension, Extension staff members Dionardo Pizaña, Emily Proctor and Barb Smutek facilitate trainings with members of the Anishinaabe Tribes. Dionardo is an Extension specialist. Emily is an Extension health and nutrition educator, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band (LTBB) of Odawa Indians and a tribal liaison for MSU Extension. Barb is a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and an Extension Greening Michigan/Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) educator.

This three-part professional development series provides a unique opportunity for MSU Extension staff and several of Michigan’s Anishinaabe Tribes to learn from each other, build working relationships and plan collaborative projects together. The series takes place four times this year, with one series per tribe.

The first series took place with members of the LTBB of Odawa Indians.

Each session encouraged communication and engagement and helped foster reciprocal learning between MSUE and the tribal community, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

Participants had the opportunity to share in both MSUE culture and tribal culture to explore ways of creating effective partnerships.

At the close of the session, participants shared one thing that stood out for them.

One participant’s response: “For me, one of the things that stood out is the genuine efforts from both LTBB and MSU to reach out to one another, get to know one another and to find out what each of us has to offer. This is a healthy start to building a life-lasting relationship.”

The next series, scheduled for June and July, will engage MSU Extension staff with members of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Registration for this session is open. Register online.

Other sessions will include the Hannahville Indian Community (July ‒ September) and the Bay Mills Indian Community (October ‒ December).

Support for continuing the partnerships will be available in the form of multicultural action mini-grants, valued up to $1,000. The grants are funded through the MSUE Diversity and Multiculturalism Office and the FRTEP. To apply for and obtain a mini-grant, you must have a Tribal/MSUE partnership and have attended the majority of the sessions. The competitive mini-grants enhance partnerships between MSUE and the tribal communities to build, strengthen and support the work started during the series.

The FRTEP, a federally funded program, enhances extension services and supports increased outreach to native communities. Initiated in 2007, the Michigan FRTEP is implemented by MSU Extension in partnership with Bay Mills Community College and the MSU Native American Institute. This short presentation gives a quick overview of the program.

Comments Off on It’s all about relationships

Filed under Native Americans

Comments are closed.