The Art of my Ancestors as my Artistic Foundation

by Jacquelene Hollier-Jackson
Programs Assistant

Long ago, the shells from the sea, porcupine quills, elks teeth, bone, bear claws, turtle shells and even dear hooves were used to make beautiful beadwork that accentuated dancers as they moved, beadwork that highlighted the accomplishments of tribal members, and even beadwork to mark milestones in life. As time went on, and trade grew seed beads, metals, and precious stones were incorporated to add even more creativity and uniqueness to regalia. I started beading in the summer of 2016. My first project was a medallion with the seal of the Muscogee Nation, my tribe I worked so hard on it and I am so proud of it; even in this short time, beading has taught me many lessons. I learned patience, and beading skills, but more importantly I awakened a spirit inside myself that is so passionate about beading; it drives me to learn more and keep making beautiful pieces of art.

When I started this blog I didn’t know what direction I would go. Would I talk about my experience or would I ask other people about theirs? I decided to do both. I will talk about my beading journey and the tools and ideas that I have learned along the way. I will share some of the advice that I was given from people that are close to me and inspire me to keep going. And I will give a few tips that I use when I bead. So let’s get started.

Picture it… American Indian Health and Family Services the summer of 2016. It was glorious….

I was new to working at the agency, mostly working with the youth group, and learning more about myself as a Muscogee Creek Nation tribal member. I did research about Native American arts and was honored to be able to learn how to make moccasins and how to bead. I have made 2 pairs of mocs and have beaded a number of things I am so proud to showcase my talent and be connected to my ancestors.

When I first started to bead I took on a huge project-a medallion- and, at the time, I didn’t know how much work I would put into it. But now I see just how much work beading actually takes. I have a new found respect for beaders because beading is hard work. It really takes blood, sweat, and tears. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have pricked my fingers beading or the times I have been focusing so hard that sweat has formed on my brow, but it is all worth it to see my skills grow and progress each day. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to learn different beading techniques and I used Pinterest for inspiration on what to bead and what to use to bead various pieces. Learning to bead is one thing, but learning how to do edging or how to make shapes and letters is a whole different ball game. I remember the first time I did edge work. In all honesty, it was sloppy and had gaps, but now I make almost seamless edges and I owe it all to practice.

In the end, well maybe the beginning since I have only just begun, these three P’s (& one O) are my best advice:

  1. Practice- even if it takes you 10 earrings to get the edging perfect don’t quit.
  2. Patience-take deep breaths and breaks when you are beading. It’s supposed to be fun so don’t lose sight of that. And finally…
  3. Praise- give yourself praise whenever you are beading be proud of what you make.
  4. The last piece is an O, be Open to advice and critiques. The people who really know about beadwork only want to help you be better and see you do well, so accept the advice and the help. I wouldn’t be able to call myself a beader without the help of the beaders in my life. So I would like to say Mvto (Thank-you) to Shiloh, Sarah, Christy, and Nickole for always helping me and sharing your wisdom with me.

With the knowledge these wonderful women have shared with me I now bead and sell my beadwork on Etsy and I make gifts for my family. I hope that my learning journey can inspire others in some way, even if it’s just the spark that gets them started on their passions.  With any art form you make always remember to have faith and pride in what you do. If you are interested in exploring your talents in beading I recommend some of the following next steps:

  • Join a beading class at your local Indian center or cultural center.
  • If you are in the Detroit area, check out the men’s and women’s group at AIHFS or contact us to let us know you are interested in taking a class! We have lots of people willing to teach!
  • Check out Shiloh’s facebook page:
  • Check out an upcoming powwow! There are always great vendors selling amazing hand crafted beadwork!  In fact, there is a powwow coming up just outside of Detroit the end of this month!

What steps will you take to pursue beading?  Is there another passion you are thinking about pursuing?

An Evening with Joy Harjo

By John Marcus
Communications Specialist

On Friday, March 10th, we travelled from AIHFS to hear internationally known poet, writer and performer Joy Harjo of the Mvskoke Creek Nation. Our evening included traveling in luxurious comfort to the University of Michigan, due to the generosity of the Native American Studies Department.

The event was held in the Michigan League Ballroom at the University of Michigan. A capacity crowd attended the exciting program.

Joy began the festivities with a beautiful native flute song and acknowledged the Ojibwe. She wanted to share that this is Ojibwe land and as American Indians, we thank the people who have always lived on the land. She told the crowd 20 years had passed since she was in Ann Arbor. She shared some interesting stories about her background, including that she is wind clan and apologized for the recent strong winds. Everyone laughed at this remark! Strong winds caused approximately 1,000,000 people to be without power in southeast Michigan!

She shared several poems and even played the saxophone. I wasn’t expecting the saxophone, but was pleasantly surprised. One of her poems was “Rabbit is up to Tricks.”

If you have not heard or read that one, I recommend it. It is very relevant to today’s times. This poem has a “trickster” in it. She mentioned that many American Indian nations have a “trickster” type character in their oral stories. These tricksters often show you the importance of following the traditional ways by NOT usually following the traditional ways. She mentioned that stories are universal in all cultures and we need to share more of them. Specifically, for America to heal, our stories need to be heard and shared. She feels that America is at a breaking point.

She closed her presentation with a question and answer period. One of the questions asked was if she preferred to be identified as American Indian or Native American.

She said she prefers American Indian (later even mentioned Indigenous), as do more of her generation. She also sees Native American as more of an academic term.

After the question and answer period, the crowd enjoyed complementary food, drink and snacks. In addition, guests had the opportunity to buy Joy’s books and have her sign them. I stood in line with one of our community members, Nancy Opatich. Thank you, Nancy, for allowing us to use this picture.

I would like to close this post with Joy’s comment regarding poetry because personally, I find poetry difficult to relate to, but now understand it better.  She said, “Poetry is not about answering questions, it’s about asking them.” My question is “what is your favorite American Indian poem?”

Thank you to the following sponsors from that evening:

Dan and Carmen Brenner Family
Native American Studies
Department of English
Institute for Research on Women and Gender
University of Michigan Office of Research
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Native American and Indigenous Studies Interest Group
Institute for the Humanities
Department of American Culture
Zell Creative Writing Program
Department of Afro-American and African Studies
Department of History
Department of Anthropology
Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies
LSA Residential College
Department of Women’s Studies

Special thank-you to Scott Richard Lyons, from the University of Michigan Native American Studies.

Sacred Roots Reaches Out to the World

by Shiloh Maples

Every two years, Slow Food movement leaders and communities convene at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, to share the diversity of good, clean, and fair food found all over the world. Delegates from over 150 countries are chosen for their ability to represent their unique traditions and Slow Food success stories, as well as their capacity to bring lessons, ideas, and relationships to help meet the challenges they face at home.

The Sacred Roots Team, Rosebud Schneider and Shiloh Maples.
The Sacred Roots Team, Rosebud Schneider and Shiloh Maples.

This year AIHFS’s Sacred Roots team was invited to help represent Detroit and the new Turtle Island Association of Slow Food at the conference held in September in Turin, Italy. The mission of the Sacred Roots program is to work in partnership with the community to create a future free from chronic disease and to pass on a legacy of wellness. The project strives to engage and mobilize community members in building healthier environments, policies, and relationships—to achieve immediate and lasting change in our community, families, and lives. Our team of staff and community alliance look for guidance for good health in our ancestral roots, hence the name Sacred Roots; and it was an incredible honor to be given the opportunity to share the work we are doing in southeast Michigan around revitalizing traditional foods for good health with the global community. We would especially like to thank the community members that came out to our special fundraiser we had that helped make this trip possible and we want to thank AIHFS for a special contribution too!


Attending Terra Madre was an extraordinary opportunity to connect with indigenous communities from around the world and to gain insight on strategies for sustainable food systems in urban and tribal communities. We attended many presentations and panels including, among others, a talk by Winona LaDuke; one on “The Commons: Nomadism, Pastoralism, and Custodianship, and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”; and “Biodiversity, Resilience, and Global Challenges” at the Indigenous Terra Madre Network. Attending these sessions broadened our understanding of the challenges facing local food systems, helped to draw connections with issues in our southeast Michigan community, and learn about the innovative work people are doing to protect and preserve their foodways.


Being selected for this historic event is a special honor, because Slow Food has recognized the Sacred Roots team’s commitment toward increasing healthy food access in Detroit as well as our passion for preserving our food heritage. The Sacred Roots team looks forward to sharing more insights and lessons from the conference at the next BALAC grantee meeting and future coalition meetings. Here is a schedule of upcoming meetings.


For more information about the Sacred Roots program, contact Shiloh or Rosebud at (313)846-3718 ext. 1403.



Dream Catchers – Connecting Culture & Spirituality

Hello again! This is Jacquelene Hollier Jackson again with another great how-to blog for my community! As a young Muscogee Creek learning about my Native American Heritage in Detroit, I learned how to make dream catchers and I learned teachings around them. Some teachings say that the reason you have good dreams under a dream catcher is that the bad dreams get caught in the web part, others say that each knot tied is a grandmother or grandfather spirit protecting you from bad dreams in the spirit realm. At first I didn’t know which I believed more but as I made more and more dream catchers I found that I did not have to know the answer now. And I’m not sure if I do, but I do believe somewhere something/someone is helping me to have good dreams. That is the secret of faith, you trust even without knowing all of the information or having all of your questions answered. And that is how dream catchers and the knowledge of ancestors has helped me to open a door into my spirituality. I hope this tutorial on Dream Catchers can help you in similar ways.

Step One: Get your supplies together. You need a hoop, sinew or string and something to wrap the hoop. I will be using leather, scissors, glue, and things to decorate with like feathers or beads.

Step Two: set aside everything except for your hoop and the material you choose to wrap it with.

Step Three: With your material wrap the hoop completely so none of the metal is showing. (I use glue sometimes to hold it together in the beginning, but you don’t have to a simple knot will suffice.

Step Four: Next we will begin the inside part of the dream catcher. This part gets a little confusing. You will tie a knot in your sinew first with one end very short.

Step Five: Take the long piece and go over the hoop.

Step Six: Continue to go under the hoop and pull through on the left side of the loop you are making. (You will repeat this all the way around. On the next row, instead of doing steps five through six on the hoop again, you will come down to the row of sinew (or string))

** Important traditionally there were knots on the hoop for the 13 phases of the moon but you can do however many you would like. Sometimes I will do smaller sections and pull tight on the sinew because I like how it looks so however you do it is up to you.

Step 7: Continue to “step down” the rows until the center of the dream catcher. (The spaces will be getting smaller and smaller you can stop whenever you like.)

Step 8: To finish, tie a knot in the center and carefully cut the extra. Add any decorations you want and VOILA you have made your very own dream catcher!

Something that I also want to encourage you all to do is to learn more about your own traditions by connecting with family elders if you are able to, or to learn what you can from elders and community members at the Indian Centers in your local community.  In Detroit we are fortunate to have American Indian Health & Family Services (, North American Indian Association (, Southeastern Michigan Indians Incorporated (, and American Indian Services.  There are also some great resources online through many of your tribal communities’ websites.   Here is another link to a beautiful teaching about dream catchers:

I hope your learning continues and your crafting helps with your personal wellness journey.

Mvto (Thank-you), Jacquelene “Lani”

One Small Step to Improve the Health of Our Planet

By Jacquelene Hollier Jackson

Through the values I’ve learned at home and at AIHFS as a former Dream Seeker, I think that caring for the planet is so important, so, before you throw something away try to think of another use for it! I grew up with my big Muscogee Creek/African American family in Detroit, making crafts from recycled items, wearing hand-me-down clothes my aunt had given me, and donating my toys and clothes that I had out-grown. I didn’t even know I was recycling/reusing, all I knew was that I was helping kids who needed clothes and kids who wanted toys… And that is how easy it is to make a difference, I mean recycle.

Being organized has so many benefits including reducing stress, waste, germs and clutter. It makes looking for something so much easier (reducing more stress!) and allows you more time to enjoy the things you love (unless you get a kick out of looking for lost thing all the time).Did I mention that organizing through cool recycling projects is great for the environment too? Let’s read some more about recycling before I show you a super awesome project you can do to recycle at home or work!

Here is a link to an article about the importance of recycling: This website is easy to use and explains the reasons for the large amount of waste and the importance of recycling. What the website says is that as more people are on the earth the more resources we will use and the more money people make the more they will buy and ultimately waste. That being said the amount of waste is only growing while the planet is getting worse. With recycling you can start small and work your way up. Starting small is as easy as donating old clothes and furniture you do not use instead of throwing them away. A fun craft you can do to get organized and to recycle is this quick Recycled Cereal Box Organizer (photographed below). This organizer is a nice way to decorate your desk and organize it all while doing something good for the planet. You will never be cluttered again after making this organizer for your desk.


Let’s get started on the Recycled cereal Box Organizer:

What you will need: 3 large cereal boxes, a pair of scissors, glue, a marker, a stapler, a ruler, and fabric or decorative paper. (I forgot the glue in the picture, you can use tape instead I found that tape actually works better with decorative paper instead of the glue.)



Step 1: Set aside everything except the cereal boxes, ruler, and marker.

Step 2: On the side of the box with the nutrition label measure down 2 inches on both sides. And 4 inches on the opposite side and connect the dots.








Step 3: Use your scissors or exacto blade to cut the lines. (I kept my top piece top piece to use as a pen and other supply holder but you don’t have to.)


Step 4:
Repeat steps 2 and
3 on the second
and third boxes.




Step 5: Cover the boxes in fabric or decorative paper using scissors and hot glue gun. To make it easier I thought of this step like wrapping a gift.









Step 6: Use the stapler to connect the boxes however you want.










Step 7: Put your folders, files, etc. inside. Below are before and after pictures.








Recycling is important to me because I want to live on an Earth that is healthy and strong, and the only way to heal the Earth is to change our habits. My family has always instilled in me the desire to protect the Earth and everything in it. I challenge you to try one easy way to recycle that is in your everyday life. I love cereal so when I saw this idea I quickly decided to make one instead of throwing the boxes away, and there are so many different ways to recycle. To find an easy craft using recycled materials, you can google DIY crafts or Pinterest is a good place to start. In the words of Mr. Spok, “Change is the essential process of all life.” (We were Star Trek for Halloween-Me and my lovely family belowJ)


Behavioral Health Renovations and Naming Contest

By Rachel Menge

The Behavioral Health Department has updated its session rooms! The newly updated rooms feature a calming color palate, chalkboard walls, case-management work stations (in development), new + comfortable seating, and ambient lighting meant to promote a calming and welcoming therapy environment. Special thank you to Bob Davis, Systems of Care Project Manager, for all his help on these new-bh-rooms

Behavioral Health is also asking for the community’s assistance in naming each session room.
Please submit naming suggestions to by November 11th, 2016 for consideration. The winning suggestion will receive recognition in the community announcements and a gift card. Contest guidelines are listed below:
1. Submit three names (one for each session room), reason behind the name, and your name and phone number via email by November 11th, 2016
2. Traditional and language names encouraged
3. Winner will be selected via community poll (watch for more information Community Announcements)
4. Room Name Examples:
Room One: Tobacco –Semaa (Sacred tobacco was the first of the four medicines to be gifted to the Anishnaabe people by the creator. Tobacco is meant for the use of prayer and offering.)
Room Two: Sweetgrass- Wiingash (Sweet grass is a gift from Mother Earth. It is said to be part of her hair and the use of sweet grass promotes strength and kindness. When braiding sweet grass each strand of the braid represents mind, body and spirit.)
Room Three: Cedar- Kiizhik (Cedar is used for purification and bringing balance into yourself. It is also known for attracting positive feelings, energy, and emotions.)
Interested in scheduling a session with one of our therapists? Contact our scheduling team at 313-846-6030 to book an appointment.

Indigenous Pink Day


Dear Breast Cancer
by Tomeka McKague
AIHFS Medical Assistant

I wanted to introduce myself since you decided to invade my family 6 years ago. I am sure you gave signs that were ignored. You would go on to setup residence and you wouldn’t leave until you completed your mission. I often wonder do you know that she was a wonderful person. A mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. She has four beautiful daughter’s and a son. Did you know that you left heartache, what if’s, many wishes and prayers unanswered. Do you even care that she was young, so full of life and had a smile that lit up a room. How about the thousands of woman and men that you decide to invade year after year. The homes you leave broken and depressed due to your uninvited presence……

The key to beating Breast Cancer is early detection. Self-examination and routine mammograms. It can and will save a life. Breast Cancer introduced itself to my family 6 years ago and it took, I think, the strongest of us all. My sister was given 6 months to live but she fought a good fight for 5 years. She lost her battle a little over a year ago and It’s still unbeliveable to me that she is gone.  It still hurts to know that I can’t call her phone and have her pick up to say I am okay. I can’t express  how important it is to get yearly mammograms and to follow-up on call backs. That could determine if you will be a survivor or have family missing you and wondering why.

  • In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive.
  • About 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2016. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and the most common cancer found in American Indian/Alaska Native women. The goal of Indigenous Pink Day is to educate all indigenous people on the importance of early detection and remind men and women to keep up to date on their screenings.