American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan – Minobinmaadziwin (AIHFS) was founded in 1978. Originally called the Detroit American Indian Health Center, it had several homes until settling in at a site on Livernois in Detroit in 1986. All services were delivered from this site, except social events, which were held at a satellite site on Lonyo, called the Family Social Center.
In April 1993, the Health Center was destroyed by arson. The community and staff, showing dedication and commitment, rallied to keep services available. Whatever could be salvaged was moved to the Family Social Center. Medical services were moved to our doctor's family practice in Royal Oak, then to Grace Hospital and eventually to our clinic on Vernor. Dental was moved to our dentist's private practice in Waterford. Counseling services were at various other local Native agencies who donated space.
The agency operated in this manner until late summer 1993, when the Archdiocese of Detroit donated a church and rectory building. The rectory became the administrative and counseling offices with the medical and dental remaining off-site. The church was used as a social hall.
To bring the medical and dental clinics on-site required over $500,000 in renovations to the church. In 1995, the agency, through the extensive work of Lucy Harrison, Executive Director, secured a HUD grant. Phase I of the renovations began in 1996; Phase II began in 1999, with the main goal of completing the on-site kitchen facilities.
The majority of funding for AIHFS is provided by Indian Health Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AIHFS, however, still relies greatly on grants and private donations to provide the much needed services to community members, many of whom fall below the poverty line.
The largest Native American population in the state resides in Southeastern Michigan. According to national estimates, over seventy percent of Native Americans no longer live on reservations, but rather in urban settings.