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Special News for Indian Country

National Indian Health Board

Holds Fourth Quarter Board of Directors Meeting

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) held its Fourth Quarter Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, DC on November 28 and 29, 2022. During this meeting, the Board received updates from NIHB staff on progress towards 2022 goals in the areas of policy, advocacy, programs and organizational operations. Board Members and NIHB Member Organization staff provided updates from their Areas to highlight priority issues that should be brought to the national level and included in NIHB’s 2023 Legislative and Policy Agenda. 

 

The Board had the opportunity to meet with Heidi Todacheene (Navajo Nation), Senior Advisor to the Secretary at Department of the Interior. Ms. Todacheene provided an update on the agency’s Boarding School Report Volume 1 and continued opportunities for NIHB and its partners to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Act that is before Congress. Since this meeting was held ahead of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, Ms. Todacheene also shared information on the agenda and what Tribal leaders could expect.

The Board welcomed Roselyn Tso (Navajo Nation), Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) – their first engagement following her confirmation. Ms. Tso provided updates on Indian Health Service’s renewed commitment to accountability, transparency and follow through, which will be implemented with organizational improvement and a workplan posted on the IHS website. NIHB requested to have regular meetings with the Director to encourage communication and collaboration. Indian Health Service also shared updates that they are working with Congress to provide information on advance appropriations for the agency.

The Board also met with Dr. Cameron Webb, Senior Advisor, White House COVID-19 Response Team to receive updates on COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country and continued mitigation and vaccination efforts. Dr. Webb acknowledged the amazing efforts of Tribal communities to vaccinate their People. Finally, the Board met with Elizabeth Carr, (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa), Tribal Advisor to the Director, Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Carr is the first to serve in this position, which NIHB advocated for over a period of years. 

The NIHB Board passed three resolutions during this meeting: 

 

NIHB Resolution 22-08 on Support for Partnership in a National Fentanyl and Opioid Summit in Indian Country

The national crisis of the opioid epidemic has disproportionately affected Indian Country, with American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) experiencing the highest age adjusted drug overdose rates and the highest rates of increase in opioid overdose deaths over the past ten years of any group. The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) has initiated a summit of national scope to address the opioid epidemic generally and the fentanyl crisis particularly in a Tribally driven and culturally informed manner that honors Tribal sovereignty. The NIHB’s mission, activities, and resources are dedicated to supporting national policy and programmatic work that supports positive health outcomes for AI/ANs, including substance use and opioid overdose prevention. NPAIHB has invited NIHB to join the national fentanyl and opioid summit as an active partner. NIHB is proud to take on this initiative and contribute to its success. 

 

NIHB Resolution 22-09 on Support for a Marshall Plan for Tribal Nations

The United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) presented a proposal and resolution for a Marshall Plan for Tribal Nations. Tribal Nations are inherently sovereign political entities, as recognized by the United States from its earliest interactions with Tribal Nations. The United States has assumed unique trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations and Native people. The United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) has issued two reports entitled, “Quiet Crisis” and “Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans,” which find deep failures in the delivery of federal fiduciary trust and treaty obligations. Much like the U.S. investment in the rebuilding of European nations following World War II via the Marshall Plan, the resolution proposes that the legislative and executive branches commit to the same level of responsibility to assisting in the rebuilding of Tribal Nations, as our current circumstances are, in large part, directly attributable to the shameful acts and policies of the United States. The proposal encourages direct, consistent and unrestricted funding subject to Tribal consultation. The NIHB Board of Directors supports with proposal. 

 

NIHB Resolution 22-10 on Support for Implementation of a Department-wide Ten Percent Set Aside within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Advance Tribal Health Equity

As health equity has risen to a national priority, NIHB works to ensure priorities and perspectives from Indian Country are fully part of the national conversation and included in initiatives and policies of federal agencies. NIHB’s main objective this year has been to gain perspectives from Indian Country around a Tribal definition of health equity – one that places current circumstances into a historical context and centers our identities as Native peoples. As a result of events held in 2022, key findings demonstrated that chronic underfunding to Tribal communities is a consistent driver of severe inequities for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). The National Indian Health Board urges the U.S. Government to take responsibility for the harm caused to AI/AN people and communities, and to take meaningful steps to provide redress for these harms. One way this can be achieved is by implementing an agency-wide ten percent Tribal set aside across all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs, using direct and non-competitive funding mechanisms, for Tribal nations in recognition of Tribal sovereignty and in honor of federal trust and treaty responsibilities.


The NIHB First Quarter Board Meeting and Annual Meeting will be held March 7-9, 2023 in Washington, DC. Please address any questions to Jennifer Speight at jspeight@nihb.org.

National Indian Health Board | www.nihb.org | 202-507-4070
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For media inquiries, contact Janee Andrews at jandrews@nihb.org
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