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Indian outreach workers help youth maintain tribal identity

Every day, our Indian outreach workers meet with Native American youth across Michigan, trying to help them maintain their tribal self-identity and their culture.

In doing so, we hope to prepare these children for a successful and bright future

Studies have shown that supporting a youth’s tribal identity results in less risky behaviors, including teen pregnancy, substance abuse and suicide. Indian outreach workers, who assist Native American families in a wide variety of ways, often help solidify tribal identity through role modeling and sharing personal stories with youth and families.

In a recent example, Angelo Franchi, a Kent County Indian outreach worker, facilitated a drumming class for tribal children as part of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Native American Program. In January, these children were featured with the Grand Rapids Symphony for the performance of “Native Sounds."

Native American Affairs employee, Angelo Franchi with drum circle youthAngelo Franchi, shown above (top left) with a recent drumming class.

Franchi, a four-year DHS employee who became an Indian outreach worker in October, also assists tribal families with housing and employment advocacy, teaching them job-seeking and resume skills and making court appearances related to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

A member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Franchi has been active in the Native American community for 20 years as a singer with Owashtinong Chungaming (Grand River Singers), a volunteer for various events, including school presentations, and as stage director for the Theatre of the Three Fires.

Visit for more about our Native American Affairs office.