Indianz.Com > News > Native American Heritage Fund awards grants to schools in Michigan
Native American Heritage Fund Announces 2021 Grant Recipients
Tribal-backed Fund Supports Projects in 11 Michigan Communities
Monday, June 28, 2021
Source: Native American Heritage Fund

The following is the text of a June 28, 2021, press release from the Native American Heritage Fund in Michigan.

The Native American Heritage Fund Board selected projects in 11 Michigan communities as recipients of the fund’s 2021 grants, at the Board’s June 18 meeting. From a pool of 17 applicants, the NAHF board chose to award grants totaling more than $480,000 in support of community art and projects, curricula updates, mascot revisions and other projects that honor Native American culture and history in the area.

The 2021 NAHF grants include:

• East Jordan Public Schools – $17,500 to develop curricula on Indigenous/Anishinaabek culture, history and language in participating Title VI schools in northern Michigan.

• Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (Kalamazoo RESA) – $16,800 to expand the Kalamazoo County Native American Family Meet Ups program to include families of children 3rd-12th grade.

• Lansing School District: Vivian Riddle Elementary School – $47,712 to rebrand the current mascot from a bear wearing a Native American headdress to “Rhinos.”

• Michigan College Access Network (MCAN)/Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College – $60,000 to increase college completion of students at tribal colleges by placing college completion coaches at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College and Bay Mills Community College for the next three years.

• Michigan Technological University – $19,056 to develop experiential, place-based local literacy modules that engage educators and communities to know about tribal culture and history.

• Northport Public Schools – $22,860 to install new signage on municipal land dedicated to Odawa/Ojibwa Native American history in Leelanau County.

• Okemos Public Schools – $213,663.50 to rebrand the current mascot “Chiefs” to a new mascot that is culturally responsive.

• Rochester Community Schools – $6,100 to educate staff and the community with a Pow Wow demonstration, and foster this learning continuously through book clubs and Twitter chats.

• Saugatuck Public Schools – $43,022 to rebrand the current mascot from “Indians” to “Trailblazers.”

• Sault Area Public Schools – $26,000 to establish a language program and create signage in English and Ojibwe.

• Traverse City Area Public Schools – $8,200 to create a new monthly educational series “Anishinaabe Expressive Cultural Series” to increase cultural knowledge and awareness.

The awards will be distributed by mail and shared with the public at a virtual meeting July 16.

The NAHF Board is composed of: Chairperson Jamie Stuck (NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson); Vice Chairperson Dorie Rios (NHBP Tribal Council Vice Chairperson); Secretary Elizabeth Kinnart (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Citizen); Treasurer Melissa Kiesewetter (Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights Tribal Liaison/Native American Specialist); and Board Member Kimberly Vargo (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Vice Chairperson).

To learn about past recipients, or about future application requirements, visit

The NAHF was established in 2016 as part of the Second Amendment to the Tribal-State Gaming Compact between the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) and the State of Michigan. The amendment allowed for a portion of NHBP’s annual state revenue sharing payment to be deposited into the NAHF.

The fund serves to promote positive relationships between public and private K-12 schools, colleges, universities, local units of government and Michigan’s federally recognized Native American Tribes. The NAHF provides resources to help improve curricula and educational resources related to Michigan Indian history, as well as to replace or revise mascots and imagery that may be deemed as offensive to or inaccurately conveying the culture and values of Native Americans. For more information visit: