Cancer Prevention Archives - ITCMI

Menthol and Other Flavored Tobacco Products


The high prevalence of menthol and flavored tobacco use in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities poses a significant threat to public health. Predatory marketing strategies by big tobacco companies on AI/AN communities has amplified initiation and addiction rates, further worsening health disparities. Menthol and flavored tobacco has been recognized as a catalyst for smoking initiation and addiction, posing an additional hurdle to quitting efforts. AI/AN communities encounter distinct challenges linked to the use of menthol and other flavored tobacco products, with the youth being particularly vulnerable to heightened risks. In a recent survey, 19.9% of youth in grades 8 report using vaping products at least once in their lifetime and 38.8% of 12th graders report having used vaping products. 1 Additionally,77% of youth surveyed in grades 8-10 did not perceive the use of vaping products as increasing their risk of developing cancer and other illnesses and nearly half of all respondents indicated that it was fairly easy for them to obtain vape products.1  

The harmful effects of menthol and flavored tobacco products extend beyond individual health, impacting community well-being and exacerbating existing disparities. It is imperative to address these issues comprehensively, emphasizing education, awareness, access to cessation services, culturally tailored interventions and effective policy initiatives to curb the prevalence of menthol and flavored tobacco use in AI/AN communities. 

Stanley, S. J., Kelley, D. E., O’Brien, E., Margolis, K. A., Navarro, M. A., Alexander, J. P., & O’Donnell, A. N. (2022). US digital tobacco marketing and youth: A narrative review. Preventive Medicine Reports, 102094. 

Food Farmacy

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan supports three Michigan tribal communities in addressing youth and adult nutrition related health disparities, including overweight and obesity, through a culturally and community-based Native American Nutrition Prescription Program – Food Farmacy.

  • Hannahville Indian Community
  • Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
  • Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians


Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc. Institutional
Colorectal Cancer Awareness

SAULT STE. MARIEColon Cancer is the third leading cancer among American Indian men and women in Michigan.  A greater percentage of American Indian men and women with colon cancer are diagnosed at younger ages compared to the general population in Michigan.  Screening rates are also lower among the American Indian population.  This suggests a need for increased education and screening among the American Indian population. 

“The good news is that Colon Cancer is preventable,” states Noel Pingatore, Program Manager for the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, “A screening colonoscopy can actually remove polyps in the intestine before they become cancerous.”  There are also new and easier to use types of stool sampling screening tests that can be completed at home.” Home stool screening tests are called Fecal Occult Blood Tests or FOBT.  They often require diet and medication restrictions and three separate stool samples.  However, the new Fecal Immunochemical Tests, or FIT, has no dietary or medication restrictions and only requires one or two samples.   The FIT is much easier to use than the older FOBT versions. 

The American Cancer Society recommends testing begin at age 50 for those at average risk and earlier for those at increased risk.  Screening tests include:

  • Colonoscopy everyone 10 years
  • FOBT or FIT every year. 

Talk with your health care provider about your risk for colon cancer and which screening tests are best for you.  The best test is the one that gets done. 

For more information on colon cancer visit: or 

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation duly organized under a state charter filed April 16, 1968.  The agency represents all twelve federally recognized tribes in Michigan.  The agency is divided into several different divisions, including:  headstart; early headstart; health services; behavioral health; environmental services; child, family, and education services; and administration.  The agency employs approximately 160 employees. 35 of these employees are based in the agency’s central office in Sault Ste. Marie, while member tribes have offices and staff on site.  Visit to learn more about the agency. The Michigan Three Fires Cancer Consortium is funded by the CDC under grant number 1 NU58DP006275-01-00

Media Contact:

Mike Willette
Communications Specialist
Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan
906-632-6896 x.110

Gigiigoo'inann Study

Explore the Gigiigoo’inaan App (Our Fish App) —an innovative tool developed by the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan (ITCMI) and The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) in collaboration with Anishinnaabe community members from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) 1836 Treaty fishing tribes. This user-friendly app, available on iPhones, Androids, and the web, provides personalized recommendations for safe fish consumption in the Great Lakes and Bemidji Region. Tailoring advice based on factors like age, weight, portion size, and the waterway where the fish is from, the app is designed to help users make informed choices, safeguarding both their health and the environment.

Fish hold great cultural significance for the Anishinaabe, and their cherished fishing traditions face environmental threats. The Gigiigoo’inaan App is significant because it provides users safe fish consumption advices as well as healthy and easy fish recipes. This app has gathered positive feedback, with Anishinaabe fish consumers reporting increased confidence, higher fish consumption, and improved understanding of environmental health.

Join us in preserving fishing traditions and make informed fish-eating choices. Download the Gigiigoo’inaan App today!


Android/Google Play: 

App preview screenshots below.

Patient Navigation Cancer Screening

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan supports Michigan tribal communities in reducing structural barriers to breast and cervical cancer screenings, follow-up diagnostic services, and cancer treatment.
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Cancer Survivorship Resources


Cancer Journey Resource Guide

Designed by the Three Fires Cancer Consortium and the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, this Cancer Journey Resource Guide is a helpful tool that provides your patients with a directory of resources available in your community.  This is an editable/tailorable guide designed to be delivered to your cancer patients by a clinic or community health staff member who can review and offer the resources available within your community, and at the same time provide a staff member time to document any fears or barriers the patient may be encountering, and any support they need with their cancer diagnosis.

Many patients living in rural locations are not provided the navigation support offered in urban areas, and this toolkit can provide a connection back to community resources to mitigate issues such as financial barriers, and food insecurity, and provide personalized referrals to local resources (traditional healer, dietician, behavioral health, etc.) while on their cancer journey.

This link is a Canva template, that you can copy, rename, and tailor for your health system and tribal community.  If you have any questions or need support in tailoring this document for your community, please reach out to


Kwe Brave

Kwe Brave resource page for Native American breast cancer survivors and caregivers. Kwe is the Ojibwe word for women and aims to honor our sisters that face cancer diagnosis. 

Follow us on social media to find shareable graphics, cancer screening reminders, and easy to read health information!

Advocating for Your Health and Breast Cancer Survivorship

illustration by @quietcreature and  @iischristy

Nutrition, Food Access, and Cancer Survivorship with Kwe Brave, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, and the American Indian Cancer Foundation

Social and Emotional Support

How to tell someone you have cancer 

Talking to your kids about cancer– webpage with helpful advice for telling your kids about a cancer diagnosis and what to expect from the conversation

Peer Support- You are not alone in being a breast cancer survivor. The Young Survival Coalition has great blogs on mental health and breast cancer 

Managing Breast Cancer as a Single Mom- Blog Post

Tips for Coping with COVID-19 for Cancer Survivors and Caregivers– GW Cancer Center

Mental Health and Cancer Support

Free Resources for mental health during COVID-19 Pandemic – list of free tools that support mental health (apps, podcasts, meditations, etc.)

Breast Cancer and Mental Health Toolkit– tips from breast cancer nurses, support groups, and help with anxiety

Suicide prevention resources 

Stress Management and COVID-19 from Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Chemo brain facts and support: American Indian Cancer Foundation

Family Resources

How Children Understand Cancer 

Common cancer terminology for caregivers and survivors- a starting place to learn about cancer and treatment

Caring for the caregiver– Native Women’s Wellness

Caregiver Tips: Fact sheet from

HIPAA: Sharing your health information with friends and family


Help with Nausea

Understanding You Diagnosis

Life after Treatment for Native Americans

Fertility and Family Planning

Metastatic Breast Cancer Navigator -Young Survival Coalition

Sex and Intimacy after a Cancer Diagnosis

Pain Management – integrative medicine:

Breast Cancer in Native American women

Native American women tend to experience more severe forms of breast cancer and are often diagnosed in later stages than other racial/ethnic groups. Women who feel supported and comfortable seeking care have better outcomes for breast cancer. The Kwe Brave campaign aims to provide breast cancer risk education and resources for young Native American women.

Young Breast Cancer is defined by anyone who has been told they have breast cancer under the age of 45.

See our info page for Native  YBCS linked above.

Three Fires Comprehensive Cancer Consortium

The Three Fires programs aim to decrease cancer rates, improve the quality of life among cancer survivors and decrease cancer morbidity and mortality for Michigan’s American Indians.

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan’s National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program aims to decrease colon, breast and lung cancer, improve quality of life among cancer survivors and decrease cancer morbidity and mortality for Michigan’s American Indians.

The Three Fires Cancer Consortium, addresses cancer-related health disparities among Michigan’s American Indian populations through the use of policy, systems and environmental change strategies.

Five tribes are participating in this consortium: 

  • Bay Mills Indian Community
  • Hannahville Indian Community
  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community 
  • Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians


Tribal Health Centers

Breast Cancer & Cervical Cancer Control (BC3NP)

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan supports Michigan tribal communities in reducing structural barriers to breast and cervical cancer screenings, follow-up diagnostic services, and cancer treatment.

Kwe Brave

Kwe Brave resource page for Native American breast cancer survivors and caregivers. Kwe is the Ojibwe word for women and aims to honor our sisters that face cancer diagnosis.