Building strong connections between tribal nations and government: Part 4 – Cooperation

County commissioners from 18 northern Michigan counties learn about Michigan tribal sovereignty, history and cooperative efforts with counties.

The United Tribes of Michigan, and the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority are two examples of tribes working together to make all stronger.

Examples of tribes working together with counties include the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and Emmet County working together on archives and records, Historical Commission, and a project called Essence of Emmet which helps to communicate to residents the history and importance of the existence of the tribe. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and Leelanau County work together on an Energy Management Office and the 911 Call Center. Several other counties have cross-deputization agreements for sheriff’s deputies and tribal police officers.

Michigan State University Extension has in recent years partnered with tribes to provide educational programs. The Building Strong Sovereign Nations Anishinabek Leadership for Seven Generations (BSSN) program is patterned after a 40+ year old program for newly elected county commissioners. BSSN provides training for newly elected tribal council members. The core program includes four modules, with efforts to have most taught by native leaders each year. This program is held in conjunction with the United Tribes of Michigan fall meeting, and includes content identified by tribal leaders as important for new council members. The first BSSN program was held in 2009.

The Citizenship Academy is a 4-H program which originally helped youth learn about their county government. The program has been expanded in several counties to include both tribal youth and learning about tribal government, and is also connected with the 4-H Capitol experience, a program designed to have 4-H youth experience the state legislative process.

The Geriatric Education Center is a program to address health related educational needs of tribal members. It includes cultural perspectives, and addresses health needs unique to tribal members.

Additional governance trainings are also available to tribes through MSU Extension. These are designed for tribal council members, executive branch leadership, department heads and staff, and are customized to meet the needs identified by the tribe. Cultural and tribal specific materials are used to enable tribal leaders to better serve their constituents.

Commissioners who participated in this program are delegates from their counties to the Michigan Northern Counties Association (MNCA). Michigan State University Extension provides educational programming assistance to the MNCA, which meets eight times each year.

Read more about building stronger connections between tribal nations and governments in northern Lower Michigan in the following articles:

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