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Bay Mills to get more than $2M in grants to improve support programs

Bay Mills Flag
Bay Mills Indian Community

Three essential recovery programs at the Bay Mills Indian Community are getting a boost in federal dollars.

The $2 million comes from a U.S. Department of Justice program designed to help enhance Tribal justice systems and strengthen law enforcement responses, improve the handling of child abuse cases, combat domestic and sexual violence, support Tribal youth programs, and fund services for American Indian and Alaska Native crime victims.

The DOJ announced more than $246 million in grants nation-wide on Sept. 21. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians also received $982,014 from the grant program.

At Bay Mills, the money will be used to enhance mainstay programs that help victims heal after traumatic events.

The Healing to Wellness Court will receive the most money: $898,556. It provides treatment and community support for victims of substance abuse.

The grant dollars will pay for drug testing, treatment services, immediate sanctions and incentives, team-based case management, and community support.

When now-president of BMIC Whitney Gravelle served as chief judge at Bay Mills Tribal Court, she said she saw first-hand how the program changed lives.

“It was absolutely a miracle to watch folks go through the Healing and Wellness Court program,” she said. “When they've been able to achieve more than a year of sobriety, when they've been improving themselves, their families and their personal lives, their spirits return.”

The additional enhancement will occur via community, participant, and clinician technical surveys and questionnaires to help identify gaps within the program, according to a press release from Bay Mills.

Tribal Victim Services Set Aside will receive $410,246, which will be used to implement services for victims of crime.

Gravelle said it’s especially important that each of the services meet the cultural needs of every tribal member.

“To unpack centuries of intergenerational trauma within Native communities is an extremely difficult task,” she said. “But it's something that we all have to engage in.”

Finally, the Journey to Healing Program will receive $741,653. It focuses on native women who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and more by providing things like emergency housing and support to prosecute abusers.

The Justice Department underscored decreasing violence against Native women as a top priority for the grant program.

Gravelle said 84 percent of Native women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime. She says programs like Journey to Healing will help change that.

“At the heart of these grants is that they are focused on empowerment,” she said. “They are looking to empower tribal nations with the resources to be able to respond to crime accordingly.”

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.