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Approach to Consultation - Living and Learning in Relationship

Wooden bowl filled with strawberries

Approach to Consultation - Living and Learning in Relationship

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is committed to ensuring that every learner in Michigan’s education system has an inspiring, engaging, and caring learning environment that fosters creative and critical thinkers who believe in their ability to positively influence Michigan and the world beyond. The realization of this vision requires the MDE to consult, collaborate, and form meaningful, holistic relationships with a vast network of communities throughout the State.

Understanding and respecting the sovereignty of Michigan’s tribal nations, this particularly holds true for Michigan’s Indigenous learners and their communities. The place-based knowledge contained within the ancestral lands upon which the People of the Three Fires (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) live remains the core from which traditional teachings and beliefs have always existed. Historically, this deeply ingrained wisdom has been underappreciated and underutilized when designing or initiating tribal consultation.

In recognition of these understandings, the MDE adopts a relational approach to consultation and engagement with the Michigan tribal nations. Rather than driving policy from the need to comply with federal and state requirements, the MDE, through the Indigenous Education Initiative, seeks to ensure inclusive and meaningful collaboration between the MDE and the tribal nations throughout Michigan. To be clear, this approach is not new to Indigenous communities. The consultation process utilized is an application of traditional teachings and the recognition of an Indigenous way of being and learning.

The MDE believes consultation is a process, not an event, based on established relationships and shared priorities. It is the understanding that an inclusionary approach utilizing a historic indigenous knowledge base for consultation is beneficial and respectful to the federally recognized tribes of Michigan. This approach also greatly expands the understanding of state institutions and representatives that seek to work directly with tribes.

The acknowledgment of Michigan’s Indigenous communities – whether on ancestral treaty lands or with individuals living in Michigan’s urban centers – is supported through MDE’s recognition of Indigenous-based knowledge systems. Adopting an Indigenous framework of consultation demonstrates MDE’s commitment to co-existing in relationship with the tribes. As a result of embracing this process, the MDE stands to strengthen and maintain the learning stance necessary to support the educational outcomes of Indigenous learners in Michigan.