Breastfeeding: The Traditional Way Seeks to Increase Breastfeeding in Tribal Communities


Published March 19, 2016

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, WISCONSIN — A new project at Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. (GLITC) is aimed at expanding the practice of breastfeeding for American Indian women and Infants in Wisconsin. “Breastfeeding: The Traditional Way” is designed to increase breastfeeding duration rates by providing greater community-based support.

The project is funded by a $299,993 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a three-year action plan.

“Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom and baby that include general health as well as their emotion and psychological well-being,” states Lori Hunter, Program Coordinator for the Health Start Program at GLITC.

Community support initiatives that seek to “normalize” breastfeeding are one component of the project. Program activities are set to include breastfeeding support groups, community education events, development of a culturally congruent media campaign, and technical assistance to tribes in promoting workplace support for breastfeeding women.

The other vital component of the program is training for tribal health care workers and other maternal child health staff to provide breastfeeding education, assistance, and support in tribal communities. “We often see women stop breastfeeding the first few weeks after birth because they encounter a barrier and aren’t able to access services for breastfeeding support,” states Cheri Nemec, RD, CD, CLS, Project Nutritionist for the WIC Program. The program will provide a 5-day training and lactation certification for health care providers.

Among the many advantages of breastfeeding are long-term health benefits, including lower diabetes and obesity rates, as well as lower risk of some cancers. The American Indian population generally sees higher rates of these conditions. The Centers for Disease Control has determined that community-based strategies such as those planned for Breastfeeding: The Traditional Way are effective ways to promote and provide support for breastfeeding duration. Project leaders envision increased success for mothers who choose to breastfeed, as well as sustained support for breastfeeding in their communities.

Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. (GLITC) is located in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. GLITC supports member tribes in expanding self-determination efforts by providing services and assistance. GLITC uses a broad range of knowledge and experience to advocate for the improvement and unity of tribal governments, communities, and individuals. Throughout these activities, GLITC maintains deep respect for tribal sovereignty and reservation community values.

The central office is located in Lac du Flambeau, with outreach services, including technical assistance, based at various member tribes’ locations across the state. Satellite staff members also serve the urban Native American population in Milwaukee through numerous human service and education programs. For more information, visit the organization website at

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKFF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WFFK priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans; and internationally are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

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