In alignment with our mission and core values, the Native American Institute (NAI) supports collaborative scholarship and programming for tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations.

We believe our efforts should work manaadenim endanakiijig omaa oodenaang (to honor community), miigiwen (to be giving), manaadendan (to be respectful), and wiijanokiindik (to work together).

The list below outlines a selection of collaborative projects with tribal, campus and community stakeholders.

Reciprocal Research Guidebook

The "Reciprocal Research: A Guidebook to Centering Community in Partnerships with Indigenous Nations" was developed in 2020 to be used as part of a larger effort to support planning for and reflecting on research partnerships. It can be used individually, in a community of scholars or within a graduate level course.

The "Reciprocal Research Guidebook" provides a narrow cross section of potential scenarios and thought-provoking activities to support researchers in developing robust partnerships. It is important not to assume that all tribes have the same experiences with, and interest in, research partnerships. It is damaging to to view this guide as providing all-encompassing knowledge for working with Native American tribal governments and communities.

Download the PDF File

Honoring the Whole Student

Higher education often focuses on one facet of a student's identity without regard for the identity of the whole student. This over simplified view of identity leaves diverse students feeling alienated because their identity is not fully understood, recognized or supported.

The "Honoring the Whole Student" in 2019 brought together geoscience diversity leaders to cultivate a network poised to critically examine practices for the support and mentorship of undergraduate students who identify with more than a single diverse community.

Download the PDF File

Collaborative of Tribal and Higher Education in Michigan

Collaborative of Tribal and Higher Education in Michigan (C-THEM) seeks to improve Native student outcomes by combining the strengths and resources of Michigan’s two-year colleges, four-year colleges and Native communities to build relationships, foster collaborations, share resources and create new infrastructures to better support Native and Indigenous students at all phases of their academic journey.

The initiative works with the tribal education departments across Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes.

Generative Generations: STEM Game Development Program for Indigenous Youth

Generative Generations is a game development curriculum kit for engaging Indigenous youth in making science, technology, engineering and math-themed video games in community-led workshops that take place during after-school and summer programs.

Through gamified hands-on curriculum, Indigenous youth are challenged to express their perceptions of science and science careers and create their own culturally responsive STEM themed video games to both engage in STEM topics and activate STEM skills.

Winterizing Giitigan

Giitigan (garden) is dedicated to providing land as a place of learning for undergraduate and graduate students, Indigenous youth and Indigenous community members, as well as the Greater Lansing area community interested in engaging in reciprocity through the lens of an Anishinaabe community garden.

The Winterizing Giitigan is a series of outreach events to prepare Giitigan for winter and educate and involve Indigenous community members (with an emphasis on youth).

Status and Trends Among American Indian Households in Detroit

This work is a survey of nearly 400 Native households in the seven-county Detroit metropolitan region. The project was conducted in partnership with urban Native centers in Detroit.

The goal of this partnership was to do a broad scale needs assessment survey of American Indian individuals and households in the seven county Detroit Metropolitan region, including Wayne, Monroe, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, Lenawee and St. Clair counties.

The overall goal of the survey is to provide a baseline dataset that can be used to refine, develop and implement programs and policies relevant to the communities served by the four American Indian partner organizations and to disseminate the results of the survey to members of the southeast Michigan American Indian community, and in-state tribal governments. 


Indigistory brings together knowledge and resources from social sciences, arts and technology to support the creation of digital stories by American Indian community members across Michigan.

Awarded the 2017 Michigan State University Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activities, Indigistory is a collaborative partnership with several community organizations. Indigistory began in 2012 through the efforts of Drs. Gordon Henry and Ellen Cushman.