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Native American Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Only a tribe or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) can determine if a person has tribal affiliation. Individuals should contact the tribe(s) they think they have affiliation with. Tribal Enrollment Offices are the best location to inquire within a tribe.

    The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) does not verify Indian ancestry or enroll tribal members for citizenship within tribes.

    Tribal Directories with contact information for U.S. and Canadian tribes are located at the following websites:

  • A DNA test will assist in verifying your paternity; which may or may not assist with proving Indian ancestry within a tribe your relatives are affiliated with. However, only a tribe may determine eligibility criteria for their citizens. Tribal codes (laws) will specify what requirements are for tribal citizenship; and may be posted on tribal websites to assist you with understanding eligibility criteria for becoming a tribal citizen (See Tribal Directories for contact information and websites for tribes).

    Paying for a DNA test is not recommended unless a tribe specifically requires this per law or establishing parentage for Indian children.

  • Many families have been disenfranchised from their tribal roots due to previous U.S. laws and policy throughout history or through adoption.

    If you were adopted after 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 25 USC 1901 et. seq. and Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MCL 712B 1-41) have provisions to assist adopted Indian persons that have reached the age of 18 or Indian custodians to obtain adoption records from the county court the adoption took place in and/or from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

    If your family lore has lead you to believe that you have Indian ancestry, you should start with contacting the tribes in the state of your origin or your family’s origin to determine if you are eligible for enrollment within any of those tribes respectively (See "How can I find out if I am American Indian/Alaska Native" FAQ above).


    The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) consists of one full-time employee who serves as the department’s avenue to comply with federal and state requirements for consultation with American Indian tribes regarding all state plans, programs, legislative changes, and policy changes that impact North American Indian children and families per the 1994 amendments of the Social Security Act, Presidential Memorandum 2009 (Tribal Consultation), Governor Granholm’ s Executive Directive 2004-05, and Governor Snyder’s Executive Directive 2012-02 (

    The NAA Business Plan has a 5 Star Focus of Advocacy, ICWA Profiling, Service Enhancement, Training/Technical Assistance, and Tribal Consultation.

    NAA delivers a broad range of services to Michigan’s approximate 130,000 American Indian population and MDHHS field staff including, but not limited to: policy and program development, resource coordination, advocacy, training and technical assistance, coordination of efforts to ensure implementation of applicable state and federal laws (including the federal Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA] pertaining to Native Americans, and tribal consultation).

    Service elements include:

    • Native American Affairs (NAA), located in the Department of Human Services, Central Office.
    • Indian Outreach Services (IOS), 12 Indian Outreach Workers (IOWs) located in county offices across the state.

    The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) may provide information referral, case mediation, and client advocacy for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Michigan residents, however, services are delivered through the MDHHS local county offices.

    American Indian/Alaska Native clients seeking food assistance, emergency funds, and other cash assistance should contact the local MDHHS County Office and/or the online applications for assistance (MI BRIDGES) found on the MDHHS website at:

    Indian Outreach Workers (IOWs) are available in 12 counties in Michigan (Baraga, Chippewa, Gogebic, Isabella, Kent, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Schoolcraft, Van Buren, and Wayne) and clients may seek their assistance in applying for MDHHS services; help with a child welfare case; accessing other community or tribal services (medical, education, transportation, housing, etc…); and assistance with verifying Indian ancestry (See Indian Outreach Worker Contact list on the NAA website

    MDHHS caseworkers and private agency partners may request IOW assistance for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) child welfare cases. Case assistance requests should be submitted via the MDHHS-382 and is subject to IOS Supervisor and/or MDHHS County Director approval.

  • Tribes have unique federal government-to-government and trust relationships with the U.S. government which have resulted in the U.S. government creating specific laws, policy, and programs for tribes and federally recognized tribal citizens. These American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) services are political agreements and memorandums of understanding; not race-based laws, policy, programs, or services. Tribal citizens have full access to tribal, state, and federal services provided within a tribe, state, or the U.S. based upon their residency and citizenship within each government jurisdiction respectively.

    Federally recognized tribal members may access or be eligible for programs such as the following through their tribe, an urban Indian organization, other state agencies, or directly with the federal government:

    Housing (

    Indian Health Services (

    Michigan Tribal Directory (

    Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver Program (

    Tax Agreements (,4669,7-192-29701_41909---,00.html)

    Urban Indian Programs (

    Veterans Affairs (

  • The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) cannot provide legal advice only clarification of MDHHS policy and mediation pertaining to MDHHS case services.

    Michigan Indian Legal Services (MILS) is a legal aid program in Michigan serving eligible American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) clients and/or tribal organizations (See

    The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) is an avenue for seeking information about court specific complaints/concerns pertaining to American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) cases (

  • The State of Michigan does not provide cash payments to individuals because they are American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN). Residents of Michigan, receiving assistance from the department obtain services such as food assistance, utility assistance, weatherization, or housing based upon federal eligibility criteria which are income-based; all persons may apply for assistance regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religious or political affiliation.

    Tribal governments operating casino gaming may provide a per capita payment (shareholder dividend) from the revenues of casino gaming enterprises to tribal citizens based upon their tribal constitution and bylaws. These per capita payments are regulated and distributed by tribes that have established laws indicating they will provide monies directly to tribal citizens; not all tribes have casino gaming enterprises or distribute per capita payments to citizens. A person’s tribe should be contacted to determine if they are eligible for per capita payments.

  • The State of Michigan established a tuition waiver program for eligible American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students seeking a college degree at a public institution. All costs associated with attending a college/university are not covered by this program (room & board, books, transportation, food, etc…); however the tuition costs are calculated for credit bearing courses and are waived for eligible Native American students. Therefore, while the cost of college/university is not entirely free for an AI/AN student, the costs are considerably reduced for a student to seek an Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D., or Juris Doctor degree.

    Students should begin planning and preparing for their college career by contacting their Tribal Education Department, completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), working with their Financial Aid Officers and applying for the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver Program.

    The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) administers this program ( Program eligibility is subject to change, however, the criteria currently requires that the student is certified by his/her tribe as ¼ Native American blood quantum, an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe, attending a public institution in Michigan and has been a resident of Michigan for at least 12 consecutive months.

  • The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 25 USC 1901 et. seq. was a law created to prevent the breakup of Indian families and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes. There are culturally competent services available for you and/or your family.


    • Native American Affairs (NAA) MDHHS policy pertaining to Indian child welfare cases is found on the MDHHS public website and NAA website
    • The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has an excellent resource for Indian families and caseworkers about ICWA and may be reviewed at
    • The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has resources and training opportunities and may be contacted at

    Michigan recently enacted Public Act 566, the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) MCL 712B. 1-41. which clarifies, enhances, and reaffirms ICWA implementation in Michigan child welfare services and courts. Information pertaining to MIFPA and ICWA are available on the NAA website at or MDHHS NAA Policy Manual at

    Indian Outreach Workers (IOW) are available to assist Indian families in Michigan with social service complaints (See IOW contact information

  • The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) has produced a toolkit consisting of four topic areas NAA, Law, Tribes, and MDHHS Services for AI/AN youth in care which may be accessed by contacting the NAA Director at

    Casey Family Programs has developed tools for American Indian/Alaska Native foster youth and may be contacted at

    The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has excellent resources and hosts an Annual Indian Child Welfare Conference that may of interest to you (See

    MDHHS Indian Outreach Services (IOS) may be available in your county to assist you with accessing services/programs (See IOW/IOS on NAA website

    As a resident of Michigan, you are eligible for any service available for youth in the child welfare system. Please contact your caseworker or Director of Native American Affairs at for more information on service linkages specific to your interests and/or need.

  • Fostering Success Michigan is an excellent way to access foster parent resources:

    If you are a relative provider and not currently licensed, there may be more funding assistance available for caring for foster or relative children in your home if you become licensed (See MDHHS Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing [BCAL] policy or contact your local MDHHS office/caseworker for more information about becoming a licensed foster care provider).

    The Office of Native American Affairs (NAA) has produced a toolkit consisting of four topic areas NAA, Law, Tribes, and MDHHS Services for AI/AN youth and foster care providers which may be accessed by contacting the NAA Director at

    Casey Family Programs has developed tools for American Indian/Alaska Native foster youth and may be contacted at

    There are tribal and urban Indian organization programs throughout Michigan that may have services/programs that you or your foster youth require or are interest in (See NAA website for contact lists and website links