By Cryss Walker

(CBS DETROIT) – The North American Indian Association of Detroit continues its long history of assisting natives in Wayne County, with specialized outreach services to help members celebrate their culture while addressing everyday needs.

Travis Schuyler, program director of NAIA says the community is a melting pot.

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“The three major tribes that have been here since the beginning are known as Three Fires People. That is the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe people.

According to the National Park Service, as of 2020, approximately 30,000 American Indians reside in the metro-area.

“So, while you still have some Three Fires People here, you also have some Iroquois people here,” Schuyler said.

Back in the 1940s, tribes from both the United States and Canada began to meet and formed the North American Indian Club.

“Native people had to start adapting and assimilating to getting jobs, the 9-5 kind of grind thing, so they moved here,” Schuyler explained.

The group changed its name in 1972 and became the North American Indian Association of Detroit.

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For almost 80 years the organization has been working to connect local indigenous people.

“Whether you’ve been here or if you’re moving to the area, if you’re a native person and you need some help you can come to us,” Schuyler said.

Today, the group continues its efforts to bridge natives and secure resources in education, employment and immediate basic needs for all people.

“It’s extremely important for native people period to try the best that they can to practice they’re culture, practice their beliefs,” Schuyler continued.

“All of what we are as a people was almost ripped away.”


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Cryss Walker