MSUToday
Published: Aug. 12, 2011

Faculty conversations: Le Anne Silvey

Contact(s): Erica Shekell Office of Communications and Brand Strategy erica.shekell@cabs.msu.edu

Le Anne Silvey teaches single parents better co-parenting skills through a series of educational and interactive classes. What's unique about her work is that she has incorporated Native American parenting practices into the curriculum.

"We just started our second wave of classes for the parents; there are eight to 10 parents per class," she said. "There"s a lot of discussion, a lot of interaction."

Silvey is the acting director of the American Indian Studies Program and associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Her work, funded by a three-year grant for just under a million dollars, began by taking the curriculum from MSU Extension's "Together We Can" program and redeveloping it. They’re one year into the project, and Silvey hopes to provide classes for 300 to 350 parents over the three years.

Silvey and others are also offering cultural competency training to human service providers in the area.

"There’s a large Native population in Southeast Michigan, and they want to work to the mutual benefit of the Native parents that they work with," Silvey said. "But they don’t know how to incorporate culture."

Silvey, along with her predecessor Susan Applegate-Krouse, also organized a series of talking circles called "Women of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawas Lives and Leadership."

It was a series of focus groups in which the women talked about how they became leaders, what helped influence that role, and how their daughters followed in their footsteps. The series was videotaped and made into three DVDs.

Silvey has also worked on an obesity project with Native American youth that involved an interactive music video game. As part of the project, they educated youth about how to eat healthy meals and portions.

"It's really needed because in American Indian culture, amongst all the racial and ethnic groups, we have the highest rate of obesity," she said.  "Last I checked, it was 42 percent."

In the future, Silvey hopes to be able to make a video that incorporates traditional dance for the benefit of Native cultures and others.

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Le Anne Silvey, acting director of the American Indian Studies Program and associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

Le Anne Silvey, acting director of the American Indian Studies Program and associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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