Category Archives: Native Americans

How one person leads to another: Strategic connections in District 1

Erin Carter is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator with the Extension Health Research (EHR) and Disease Prevention and Management (DPM) teams. She’s been with us since 2015 and serves our MSU Extension District 1. As part of the DPM aspect of her position, she offers programming in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, Matter of Balance, Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) and Diabetes PATH. She works with an Ishpeming 5th grade class to offer the SPartners physical activity and nutrition program.

Headshot of Erin Carter, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator in District 1.

Erin Carter, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator in District 1.

The goal of the recently formed EHR team is to serve as a model to promote partnerships nationwide between Extension and university academic faculty to advance health in all our communities. EHR offers “Are You Research Ready?” to train Extension educators to use their health programs, expertise and community connections to work closely with the MSU College of Human Medicine researchers. The team also offers “Speed Meetings” to inform statewide faculty about Extension programming so they may use our programming, our connections or both in their research.

When making strategic connections, Erin told us that she’s not quiet for long.

“When I feel strongly about something I only sit back when forced to do so. With this being said, I talk about Extension a lot, which opens doors to things I didn’t know existed or something I could be involved in,” Erin said. “It’s interesting how one person leads to another and with each relationship, positive things began to happen.”

Erin made an important connection when a person who works in health with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians approached her. He asked her to help him form a coalition at the K. I. Sawyer community.

Once a pristine U.S. Air Force base, K. I. Sawyer, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, turned rural Gwinn into a bustling small city starting in 1955. This all changed after the Base Realignment Commission of the federal government decided to close K. I. Sawyer in 1993. Upheaval of the Air Force base left behind miles of land. Air force properties sold to private individuals, companies and the Sault Tribe mostly for $1 per property. Some of the housing is vacant, but other homes are inhabited by families and individuals, many of whom cannot afford to live elsewhere.

Eighty-seven percent of students in the K. I. Sawyer School are eligible to receive free and reduced lunch. The community within K. I. Sawyer, Lake Superior Village, reports numbers of 100 percent free and reduced-lunch status. In this small section of K. I. Sawyer, the former community center has opened its doors to serve these families with volunteers within the neighboring counties. Donations have been the only means of providing services for an after-school and summer program, which offers healthy snacks.

The residents of Lake Superior Village do not have access to health care. The closest hospital is a 30-minute drive for individuals having the luxury of owning a car.

If employed, individuals usually work in service jobs earning minimum wage or just above minimum wage. Since these jobs are primarily in Marquette, workers must take public transit or drive personal cars requiring more cost and hardship.

“It only took me one visit to know this partnership was important and could do some great things in a community of need,” Erin said. “The social determinants of health talks about the importance of healthy communities and how unsafe or unhealthy communities affect everyone. If there are no programs for this community, what will happen to the outlying communities? It takes committed people willing to take the time to see the needs and begin to help the people of a community left behind.”

The coalition came together with representatives from the Sault Tribe, the YMCA of Marquette and MSU Extension. They teamed together with other local partners to offer programming in healthy food preparation, physical activity, diabetes prevention and gardening.

Erin sent us some amazing updates of the coalition’s progress:

  • A kickoff dinner brought the K. I. Sawyer Coalition idea to community leaders, police departments, city planners, early education specialists, garden experts, K. I. Sawyer community building employees, local papers and media, Marquette city professionals and community residents.
  • A new community center kitchen that will offer cooking demos and serve more people healthy food is in the blueprints stage.
  • The basketball courts are being repaved, and the MSU Extension Marquette County 4-H group is working to improve the baseball fields.
  • An abandoned hoop house at the school will be moved to make room for a garden.
  • Buses from the school will transport community residents to the events at the community center.
  • Volunteers from all over Marquette County will start a butterfly garden this summer.
  • Partnering with the Sault Tribe has increased MSU Extension programming participant numbers in the area three-fold.
  • Northern Michigan University students collaborate with us in the schools to bring healthy changes to the school’s students by encouraging physical activity.

Paul Putnam, MSU Extension District 1 coordinator, shared the results of Erin’s work.

“Erin has helped to expand our relationships and partnerships with her joint position, and has community connections in both the Houghton/Hancock and the Marquette areas,” he said. “She along with several other strong community partners are making significant impacts in a relatively short period of time.”

Erin said, “Being one of the core people to start the K. I. Sawyer coalition has made me realize how getting a few caring people together can really move a community forward. I’m fortunate I get an opportunity to see the impact a few projects can make to brighten a community and offer another type of value to people’s lives. Sometimes it feels like reaching out to make a connection takes too much time out of our schedules and remembering the value is difficult, but when this time is taken, it can really make a difference.”

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Filed under 4-H, Accomplishments, Children and Youth, Economic development, Greening Michigan, Health and Nutrition, Housing, Impacts, Native Americans, Nutrition, Partnerships, strategic connections, Uncategorized

Don’t miss this relationship-building opportunity

In the program Relationship Building for Better Partnerships: Anishinaabe Tribes and MSU Extension, Michigan State University Extension staff members Dionardo Pizaña, Emily Proctor and Barb Smutek facilitate trainings with members of the Anishinaabe Tribes. I’ve written about the program in the Spotlight on April 11 and more recently on August 8. There’s still space for the next round of workshops. The 3-part series provides a unique opportunity for the Bay Mills Indian Community and MSU Extension to learn from each other, build working relationships and plan some collaborative projects together. This series takes place in Brimley Oct. 10, Oct. 30 and Nov. 14. Register here.

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Learn more about building relationships with tribal communities

Several months ago, I wrote a story about a new program (Relationship Building for Better Partnerships: Anishinaabe Tribes and MSU Extension) developed by three of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues about building strong and lasting relationships with Michigan tribal nations. Extension staff members Barbara Smutek, Emily Proctor and Dionardo Pizaña have offered a three-session program in St. Ignace, are currently offering a second series in Hannahville, and are scheduled to offer a third session in Brimley later this year.

Barbara and Emily presented an update on the workshop series on the MSU Extension Update Webinar on Monday, Aug. 5. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties that made it difficult to hear Barbara’s portion of the presentation. She has graciously offered to record that presentation with the sound issues corrected, so I’d like to call this to your attention. You can hear a recording of her presentation at https://connect.msu.edu/p9sciguxeu1/.

Just as important, I would like to encourage you to seek out an opportunity to participate in this program in the future. Tribal partnerships have already served us well in reaching audiences we have not served in the past, and as more of us learn about the unique opportunities presented by working with tribal members, we can achieve even more impacts in their communities. The current workshop series in Hannahville has two sessions remaining, one on Aug. 21 and the other on Sept.18. And the next series, to be held with the Bay Mills Indian Community will take place in Brimley on Oct. 10, Oct. 30 and Nov. 14. Future series are in the plans for the Traverse City area and southeast Michigan.

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Work through geriatric center focuses on health in elders in American Indian communities

Michigan State University Extension is partnering to improve health in tribal nations.

Some of our MSU Extension colleagues work through the Geriatric Education Center of Michigan (GECM), a federally funded, statewide consortium of universities, hospitals and government agencies. The center, administratively located at MSU, trains health professionals and others to deliver better care to older adults.

Through the center, the Northern Michigan Team focuses on elders in the American Indian community. The team includes Extension health and nutrition educator Emily Proctor, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and a tribal liaison for MSU Extension; Linda Cronk, Extension health and nutrition educator; Beth Eisch, registered nurse in the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan; Dr. Lynn Swan, physician in the Munson Family Practice Center and MSU assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine; and Dr. Cheryl Peters, Extension evaluation specialist.

The team partners with tribal nations and community organizations to offer tribal government employees an opportunity to obtain continuing education credits through various elder care modules. The modules train individuals on topics that include caring for the caregiver, substance abuse and mental health issues in older adults, health literacy for older adults, oral health and more. Not intended as typical lecture instruction, the multidisciplinary modules involve sharing experiences and learning from each other.

Linda said, “Through the work with the GECM, it has been an honor to work with tribal nation professionals who focus on elder issues. It has been very refreshing to observe the levels of commitment and respect that people show to their elders in the tribal communities with which we have worked.”

Read this MSU Today article, to find out more about the work of the center: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/where-cultural-traditions-meet-cutting-edge-care/

For more information on the GECM, visit http://gecm.msu.edu/.

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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.

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Nature’s challenges are a call to action

The earthquake in Haiti has weighed heavily on our collective consciousness over the past few weeks, and I’m sure many of us and the people we serve have tried to reach out in ways to help alleviate the suffering of so many. This message just came through on a list-serve I follow and I thought I’d share it as another opportunity for folks to consider in helping others affected by a dangerous weather circumstance. The message is dated January 27, 2010 and originates from Ronnie Warren, USDA APHIS.

You may have heard the Dakotas had terrible ice storms this past weekend. The ice has brought down over 2,000-3,000 utility poles down on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Electricity has been out for five days (since Friday). Crews are working feverishly, but it may be out for up to 30 days in some areas. With no electricity, no heat, no running water, and a wind chill below zero the situation is growing more difficult.

The Tribal government is setting up shelters and working hard to provide for the community’s needs. The State, the Red Cross, and other Tribes are helping, but options and resources have been drained with the two most recent blizzards.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is one of the most impoverished communities in the United States. It is about the size of Connecticut: yet there are only a handful of generators on the Reservation, the water pump station is down so there is no running water, the gas stations hasn’t been able to pump gas, and the Tribal grocery store has lost all its perishables.

Please donate if you can, and pass on to others and companies that might be able to provide donations or assistance.

MEDICAL NEEDS: Dialysis Patients/Glucose Strips/Financial Support for Hotels
The dialysis patients have all been evacuated three hours away to Rapid City, SD. They are staying in hotels for at least a week and half, probably longer. The Tribe is looking into reimbursement sources from CMS and IHS, but in the interim financial contributions are needed to help the families pay for their hotel expenses and food. An account has been set up at Wells Fargo to help with these expenses. You can contribute at any Wells Fargo or send to the Rapid City branch.

CONTRIBUTIONS:
Wells Fargo
Cheyenne Dialysis Patients (c/o Dew Bad Warrior)
Acct. #: 5815904338
1615 N 7th St.
Rapid City, SD 55701

Medical Items Need on the Reservation itself (shipping address below)

  • Glucose Strips
  • First Aid Kits
  • Children’s Tylenol
  • Children’s Cough Syrup

NEEDED SUPPLIES:
A big thank you to Wal-Mart for sending some initial food and supplies!! Additional items are needed, especially for the communities whose electricity is expected to be down for up to 30 days. Please forward to any companies that manufacture these items that may be of assistance.

  • CONTRIBUTIONS: Can be made directly to the Tribe’s emergency fund listed below.
  •  IN KIND: Or if you prefer to make in-kind donations:
    •   Non-perishable food
    •   Cots
    •   Heat sources (heaters & fuel)
    •   Camp stoves & fuel
    •   Light sources:
    •   Lithium 1, 2 and 3 batteries for law enforcement
    •   Lamps/batteries/lamp oil
    •   Toiletries
    •   Toilet paper
    •   Paper products for the shelters
    •   Pampers/formula
    •   Hand/baby wipes/hand sanitizer

FINANCIAL DONATIONS:
The Tribe has depleted its emergency budget with the two blizzards that already hit the reservation since December. It needs funds to help buy food and supplies for the community and volunteers, to pay for gas and overtime for the workers, to replace the motor at the water pump station that was destroyed, etc. Any financial donations are much appreciated. The Tribe is also trying to set up on-line donations but that may take some time.

WIRE DONATIONS TO:
Cheyenne River Sioux 2010 Disaster Account
Direct to: United Bkrs Bloomington ABA # 091 001 322
Beneficiary Bank: Account Number 250 3373
State Bank of Eagle Butte
Eagle Butte, SD 57625
Final Credit: Account Holder @ UBB Customers Bank
Account Holder: CRST 2010 Disaster, Account Number 103173

MAIL CHECK DONATIONS TO:
TO: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe/2010 Disaster Account
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s Office
Attn: Ice Storm Emergency Fund
PO Box 590
2001 Main Street (Tribal Offices)
Eagle Butte, SD 57625

SHIP SUPPLIES TO:
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s Office
Attn: Ice Storm Emergency Supplies
PO Box 590
2001 Main Street (Tribal Offices)
Eagle Butte, SD 57625

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Filed under Housing, Leadership, Native Americans

Looking for science and engineering judges

The North Central Region has the honor of hosting the 2009 National American Indian Science & Engineering Fair, March 26-28 in St. Paul, Minn. The fair will feature more than 300 displays submitted by students, grades 5 through 12, who attend American Indian Science and Engineering Society affiliate schools. This is a great opportunity to meet, support and encourage up-and-coming American Indian scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

If you are interested in judging this amazing competition, contact Tina Pino by March 13.

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Filed under Conferences, Leadership, Native Americans, Youth development

First Building Strong Sovereign Nations Conference set for Feb. 4 – 5

Tribal leaders from 11 of the 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan will attend the first Building Strong Sovereign Nations (BSSN) Conference, Feb. 4-5 in Williamsburg. This is the first tribal governance training of its kind that will be held on Indian land in conjunction with a university.

 

Aaron Payment, our American Indian liaison, tells me that this initiative is the first step in fostering a close working relationship among tribes to identify needs for training in tribal governance and then providing training that will strengthen tribal governance and access to resources available to tribal leaders through MSU Extension, the MSU Native American Institute (NAI) and the MSU Indigenous Law and Policy Center. Jim Wiesing, Grand Traverse CED identified the need for this training and has been joined by a number of other members of the State and Local Government Team and Nick Reo, Aaron’s predecessor as liaison and acting director of the NAI to develop and deliver the curriculum in partnership with four of Michigan’s tribes.

 

In addition, a representative from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) will be attending the event. The NCAI serves the same function of the United Nations, and has been existence longer than the UN.

 

For more information about BSSN or any tribal issues, contact Aaron at 517-432-7605 or payment@anr.msu.edu.

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