Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council elders focus on youth developmentSubmitted: 01/20/2020
Maya Reese
Maya Reese

Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council elders focus on youth development
RHINELANDER - The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council provides inter-generational exchanges through their Foster Grandparent Program.

Community elders are making a push to get kids going in the right academic direction, while also teaching indigenous traditions, through a type of mentoring program. Tribal elder Loretta Metoxen says that to their community, being an elder means more than just being over 55 years old.

"It means that you have wisdom and experience that you can pass on to others," said Metoxen.

Their Foster Grandparent Program connects 15 elders with nearly 40 children in their local area. Metoxen says she's seen the impact this program has had on the both the elders and youth of their tribe.

"I've seen those elders participate and bring their expertise to the young people," said Metoxen.

That expertise includes using storytelling as a method to teach their youth life lessons.

"They rely too much on technology and not enough on human enterprise," said Metoxen. "Elders that know a lot..that can contribute a lot to them."

Patricia Takamine serves as Director of Elder Services and organizes the details of the Foster Grandparent Program. She says it provides structure and support to a community that would otherwise lack guidance.

"We have a lot of issues with opioids, alcohol and other drug abuse, poverty housing," said Takamine. "We have a lot of elders who are taking care of their grandkids because that middle generation is missing or absent."

The program has been providing through the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council since the late1960s. Over the decades, they've helped youth with special needs, offered social and emotional support, and helped them get their GEDs.

"Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council's vision and mission is that we support 7 generations of knowledge being transferred from the ancestors back 7 generations to 7 generations forward," said Takamine.

The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council's Foster Grandparent Program is always looking for new elders and youth to join.
Fore more information, contact the Foster Grandparent Program at (800) 472-7207.

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