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Tribal Program Spotlight: The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan Head Start Center

The Little Traverse Baby Bands Head Start Center of Michigan has a very strong relationship with the Native American Community.  Native American children account for 85% of those served and most reside on a nearby reservation or in local rural areas. 

Incorporating Native American Languages into the Curriculum

According to Center Director Mickey Kilpatrick whose letter to the editor was recently published in the Petosky News, “we partner with the tribe because we believe that teaching children their own culture is linked to school success. Decades past when our people were sent to boarding schools we lost our language and culture. We believe that as much as we can, we should connect our kids with elders who still have the language and want to share it.” 

Toward that end, the LTBB Head Start Center employs a language teacher to teach children and staff their Native language of Anishinaabemowin.  Sometimes the kids are so excited that they go home and teach their parents, a practice that has resulted in the center receiving calls from parents inquiring about the meaning of common words.

In addition, each year LTTB Head Start plans a trip to the tribal government building where the children sing to the elders. Tribal ceremonies are also held and traditional holidays are observed with families and the community.  Parents, elders and Head Start staff have even made traditional regalia for each child to use during pow-wows and the local parade that celebrates tribal sovereignty.