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Washington County Cherokee Asso. Celebrates Opening of New Community Center

October 11, 2019 - 1:00am

OCHELATA, Okla. — More than 150 Washington County Cherokees were on hand Oct. 3 to celebrate the opening of the Washington County Cherokee Association’s new community building.

The new building was constructed with community work grants awarded by Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach and community assistance funds from the Council of the Cherokee Nation.

“The Washington County Cherokee Association is a strong community organization that was willing not only to work hard to see this building to completion but also to work hard to maintain it as a service to the whole community,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I’m proud that this building will serve as a hub of Cherokee culture and community for the entire area.”

The community building was built just east of the Cherokee Nation’s Cooweescoowee Health Center in Ochelata, a community about 12 miles south of Bartlesville.

“The Washington County Cherokee Association has done a fantastic job of bringing together the people and the resources needed to take this from a vision to a completed project,” said District 12 Tribal Councilor Dora Patzkowski. “I look forward to the wonderful opportunities this community building will provide to Washington County Cherokee citizens in the coming years.”

The facility offers 5,000 square feet of space where the community association can host meetings, cultural events, and other activities throughout the year.

“This community building wouldn’t have happened without the Cherokee Nation,” said Richard Stephens, president of the Washington County Cherokee Association. “We feel extremely privileged to have had all of the support we’ve received. We’ve received every resource we needed.”

Learn more about the Washington County Cherokee Association and future events at

Community work grants provide funding to qualifying Cherokee community organizations planning projects that will benefit their communities. For a list of qualifications or for details on submitting an application, contact Brad Wagnon at 918-718-5522 or


Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo Champs Advance to RAM National Circuit Finals

October 11, 2019 - 1:00am
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. — Rodeo’s biggest stars from Arizona and New Mexico took center stage at the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo (TCFR) on October 4 – 5.
Joseph McConnel of Bloomfield, NM, was the only bull rider to make three qualified rides. Claiming his title as “RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo Bull Riding Champion,” and the victory was a way of honoring a friend.
“While I was driving to the Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo, from a friend’s funeral, I wanted to do something to honor my friend. I set a goal to ride all three bulls in my friend's memory. I went in on top, and I won all three rounds. It was pretty special for me for a few reason’s” said McConnel.
McConnel rode for a total of 246 points on three head, with a high score of 86.5 points on Salt River Rodeo’s “Soul Seeker,” during the first performance. “That ride set the pace for the weekend, I needed something to get the momentum going, “Soul Seeker” bucked and helped me get my first-round win,” McConnel stated.
Saddle Bronc rider, Leon Fountain of Socorro, NM, changed the leader board after the 2nd performance with 76.5 points on Salt River Rodeo’s “Soda Pop.” “My horse was excellent. He gets a lot of guys on the ground, and luckily I was able to stay on him. He bucked, and I was able to stay in the middle of him, I was a little rusty, but I shook it off and got the win. It changed my weekend,” said Fountain. During the third and final round, Fountain came in with an 81 point ride on Salt River Rodeo’s “Taos’ Time Bomb” to win the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo.
2019 RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo Champions

  • All Around – Seth Hall, Las Lunas, NM

  • Bareback Riding – Evan Betony, Tonalea, AZ

  • Steer Wrestling- Trey Nahrgang, Buckeye, AZ

  • Team Roping – Trey Blackmore/Seth Hall, Hillside, AZ / Las Lunas, NM

  • Saddle Bronc Riding – Leon Fountain, Socorro, NM

  • Tie-Down Roping – Shad Mayfield, Clovis, NM

  • Girls Barrel Racing – Tarryn Lee, St. David, AZ

  • Bull Riding – Joseph McConnel, Las Cruces, NM

  • Steer Roping – Corey Ross, Liberty Hill, TX

The top two champions in each event will represent the Turquoise Circuit in Kissimmee, Florida, for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Learn more about the RAM NCFR and how these champion contestants get to advance, by clicking here. Slated to join the above champions at the RAM NCFR will be Earl N Tsosie Jr. (Bareback Riding), Taos Muncy (Saddle Bronc), Lon Danley (Bull Riding), Seth Hall (Tie-Down Roping), Trevor Duhon (Steer Wrestling), Erich Rogers (Team Roping Header), Lane Siggins (Team Roping Heeler), Sarah Kieckhefer (Barrel Racing) and Garrett Hale (Steer Roping-Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping/Kansas Star Arena).
The event also honors the animal athletes, winning stock awards this year are as follows:
2019 Turquoise Circuit Stock of the Year

  • Bareback – 6H13 Lady Assassin – Salt River Rodeo Co.

  • Saddle Bronc – 9466 Whiskey River – Salt River Rodeo Co.

  • Bull – 120 Rock Road – Salt River Rodeo Co.

2019 Turquoise Circuit Timed Event Stock of the Year

  • Steer Wrestling – Heza Planet – aka FRANK (owned by Wyatt Jurney. Ridden by Wyatt Jurney, Tyke Kipp, Grady Gray & Monty Eakin)

  • Team Roping (Header) – Lazy TB Thirty (owned by trey Blackmore. Ridden by Trey Blackmore, Josh Siggins, Brock Hanson, and Cody Cabral)

  • Team Roping (Heeler) – Lenas on a Roll – aka LITTLE BOY (Owned and ridden by TJ Brown)

  • Tie-Down – GSR Star on Tap – aka SHARKY (Owned and ridden by Kyle Dutton)

The 2019 RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo boasted record-breaking attendance at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, AZ, with a 20% fan attendance increase. “We were excited to see the increase in attendance at the event this year. Our rodeo showcases the best cowboys, cowgirls, and animal athletes in the Southwest. It means a lot to us when the community supports them,” said Jim Dewey Brown, President of Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo. The Turquoise Circuit Rodeo season kicked off last month. You can learn more about the circuit and see a rodeo schedule online at

What Are Specialized Building Plastics And Where Can You Get Them

October 11, 2019 - 1:00am

Plastic’s versatile nature has made the most popular material for producing a range of different products from heavy-duty machinery to products that we use daily. Unlike other building materials such as wood and various types of metals, plastic is easy to source and much more affordable for manufacturers to use. 

The two main categories of plastic are thermoplastics and thermosets. Each one of these categories has several variations of plastic grades suitable for different manufacturing purposes. These plastics are found in almost every product we use on a daily basis from our clothes to the electronic equipment we use.

Plastics have also proven to be a formidable material and frequently used in the construction of homes, buildings, and warehouses. The piping and drainage system currently installed in your home is likely made from Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) a type of plastic that offers long-lasting durability, some amount of flexibility and immense strength. The fact that plastic can not be eroded by water is also one of the main reasons why they are such effective building materials.

What Type of Building Materials Are Made From Plastic

Plastic offers an affordable and long-lasting solution to take care of your residential or commercial properties plumbing and drainage issues both underground as well as above the surface. Leaking pipes and deteriorating connectors can cause water to spread out underground or inside your walls, floors, and ceilings resulting in expensive repairs.

Metal piping is susceptible to corrosion over time and even cheaper quality plastic connectors can easily lose there shape resulting in a series of plumbing and drainage issues that no homeowner wants to deal with. Buying high-quality plastic piping, ducting, and building materials help ensure that such incidents do not happen. 

The most popular building plastics you can have installed include:

Access Chamber & Covers

Plastic made access chambers are affordable and highly durable and serve the purpose of permitting entry to underground utility services such as telecom wiring, electrical wiring, and fiber optics. These access chambers or ‘duct boxes’ as they are often referred to have pre-formed holes that allow you to organize all underground wiring and piping in a neat and safe manner protected from the elements.

These access chambers also allow you to better manage your drainage and water flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. The cover is also essential to prevent debris and excess liquid from pouring out of the chamber and damaging surrounding areas.

Barrier Pipes

This form of piping is especially effective in areas where contamination in water is prevalent. Usually found and used in industries and manufacturing plants that have to dispose of contaminated wastewater. These pipes are designed to not degrade from contaminants in water and prevent piping from leaking and damage.

BT Duct Pipes

These PVC pipes are made for carrying telecom data cables and phone lines and offer high-quality construction and easy installation even in congested footways.

Channel Drainage

Channel drainage systems made of plastic offer a quick and affordable solution to dealing with standing water in areas of your property that are paved, tarmacked or concreted. They offer a simple and effective solution to water drainage issues.

Cold Water Storage Tanks

Coldwater storage tanks are generally needed for vented heating systems and are installed in the loft area of your home. Coldwater from the main water line is stored in these tanks and then heated before flowing down the vents heating your home.

Ducting Accessories

The simplest tools can often make a seemingly impossible task seem easy. Ducting accessories such as drawcords, warning tapes, and other useful tools are essential to ensure that all your piping and cables are properly attached and labeled.


Maintaining your guttering system is essential to prevent water from seeping into your exterior walls damaging your properties’ structure and strength. The guttering system at homes is often overlooked until serious problems arise so it is always best to inspect your guttering at least twice a year to make sure it is still attached properly and is not leaking from anywhere.

Land Drainage Pipes

Land drainage pipes are an effective way to direct excess water from areas of your property to a suitable collection point. These drainage pipes are only effective against rainwater and not recommended for the drainage of septic tanks and treatment plants. These pipes are most commonly used is the sport and leisure industry and in agriculture.

Pipe Connectors

Having good quality pan connectors is essential to reducing the chances of leakages in your plumbing system. Whether it be toilet pan connectors, toilet waste connectors, or other bathroom pan connector fitting making sure you purchase the right size and quality is of prime importance.

Soil Pipe Systems & Fittings

A soil pipe can also be referred to as a vent pipe or stack pipe commonly found on the external walls of residential homes and buildings. Soil pipe systems connect to the pan connectors in your bathroom and run down the side of your walls to the underground sewage system.

Twinwall Drainage & Ducting

Twinwall drainage pipes and ducting offer even more strength, durability, and lightness than other plastic piping systems available in the market. They are used in agricultural applications and are most effective for surface stormwater drainage. With a smooth inner bore and a flexible corrugated outside exterior, these pipes are made to last. Twinwall ducting makes for easy installation of piping and cables and ensures long-lasting use.

Water Butts

Water butts are the ideal solution for helping you store rainwater that is much more suited for irrigation purposes than water you get from the main water line.

Where To Get These High-Quality Building Plastics?

If you are seeking a reliable supplier of building plastics and are a contractor or construction company you realize the importance of receiving the materials you need on time to avoid delays and cost over-runs. You also realize the importance of buying materials at a fair price so you are still within your desired budget. 

In this case, then EasyMerchant is a great option because they offer the fastest shipping, great customer service a wide range of high-quality building plastics that are always kept in stock to meet your construction needs.


AS Sweeney Hosts Reclaiming Our Native Communities Roundtable in Rapid City

October 11, 2019 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON — Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney on Wednesday hosted the fourth in a series of Reclaiming Our Native Communities roundtables in Rapid City, S.D. The purpose of the roundtables is to hear from tribal leaders, public safety and domestic violence prevention advocates, law enforcement, and health care providers on what the federal government in general and Indian Affairs, in particular, need to do to seriously address the issue of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women, children and men.  Indian Affairs is looking at approaches that seek the reduction of violent crime, tackling the opioid crisis, human trafficking, solving cold cases, and resolving jurisdictional issues across Indian Country.

“Our public safety problems are complex and vary by community, which is why this collaboration is critical to our ability to successfully aid tribes in reclaiming their communities from the scourge of violent crime and domestic violence that threaten Native people and families,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney said.  “We need to continue to refine our strategies and maximize partnerships to deliver services with limited resources.  That is why these roundtables are such valuable opportunities for us to hear directly from tribal leaders, and community professionals and advocates on these matters.”

Joining the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs in speaking to the attendees were Charles Addington, Deputy Bureau Director – Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, in Washington, D.C., and Timothy LaPointe, Regional Director of the BIA Great Plains Regional Office in Aberdeen, S.D.  Other speakers include officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice officials, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association, the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, and the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center.

The challenges that perpetuate the pattern of structural violence are a defining characteristic of life in many tribal communities, such as jurisdictional conflicts, a lack of emergency services, and limited law enforcement resources.  The statistics are a stark reminder of the extent of the problem:

  • Sixty-one percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women (or three out of five) have been assaulted in their lifetimes, 34 percent of Native women are raped in their lifetimes, and 39 percent are victims of domestic violence. (NCAI Policy Research Center)

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives are two-and-a-half times as likely to experience violent crimes – and at least two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes – compared to all other races.  (NCAI Policy Research Center)

  • According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office study, United States Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52 percent of violent crimes that occur in Indian Country.  They also declined to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse and related matters that occur in Indian Country.  (Report: U.S. Department of Justice Declinations of Indian Country Criminal Matters)

  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, nearly 83 percent of Native Americans have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.  That is nearly 3 million people who have experienced aggressive physical or sexual violence.

  • Native American female victims are more likely to need services but are less likely to have access to those services.  More than one-third of Native women were unable to receive necessary services at all.  (Report: U.S. Department of Justice Declinations of Indian Country Criminal Matters)


CN Placing Focus on Customer Service, Reducing Patient Wait Times

October 10, 2019 - 1:00am

Tribe’s new outpatient health facility opens the first phase to patients

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced Monday he’s implementing patient advocacy positions to focus on customer service and reduce patient wait times at Cherokee Nation Health facilities.

The announcement is part of Chief Hoskin’s first 100 days initiatives and comes on the first day the new Cherokee Nation outpatient health facility in Tahlequah opened to patients.

According to a recent Cherokee Nation study of patient health visits, the average Cherokee Nation citizen waited up to two hours from check-in to provider visit completion.

“With the opening of our new outpatient health facility which has more than 240 exam rooms and these patient advocates in place to help guide our citizens, we know we are on the right track to improving quality of care and achieving quicker wait times for our Cherokee people,” Chief Hoskin said. 

The Cherokee Nation is implementing a staff reorganization within health with a team approach focused on customer service and patient advocacy. The initiative will also reduce the time patients wait for a scheduled visit as well as their time waiting to see the provider.

“Cherokee Nation is blessed with a dedicated team of health staff, an unmatched health infrastructure, and with an increased focus on patient care, we are setting the bar high in Indian Country,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said.

Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country with more than 1.3 million patient visits per year.

The Cherokee Nation’s four-story, 469,000 square-foot outpatient health center on the Hastings campus opened its optometry, audiology, physical rehabilitation, behavioral health, radiology, lab, and pharmacy services to patients on October 7.

Primary care, dental and resident clinic will open to patients in the new center on October 21. A grand opening ceremony is being planned for November 14.

Since being sworn into office in August, Chief Hoskin has also increased minimum wage at Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses to $11 an hour, launched a $30 million housing, jobs, and sustainable communities’ initiative, invested $16 million into Cherokee language preservation and asserted a treaty right and appointed a Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress.



Casting Call for Short Film, “Happy Thanksgiving” in Grand Rapids

October 10, 2019 - 1:00am

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Director Shane McSauby (Ottawa) announced a casting call for his latest film, “Happy Thanksgiving” that will be filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan between November 25 through December 4, 2019.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” written and directed by  McSauby, is a satirical dark comedy that follows an Anishinaabe man who takes a malicious “Happy Thanksgiving” wish from a bank teller so personally, his rage drives him to a bizarre revenge plan.

Casting for the three main characters are as follows:
1. JOHNNY LOON (25-35-year-old Native/First Nations, Anishinaabe preferred, man) a punk rocker, activist, shy, self-conscious and neurotic, will obsess over what he should’ve said for weeks after an argument, knows how to hold a grudge, blames all of his problems on colonialism. Once described as “if George Costanza was an AIMster gangster.” [Lead Role]

2. SHANOODIN (Mid-twenties, Native/First Nations, mixed with African/Black ancestry preferred, woman) currently earning her Masters in ecology and studies Anishinaabemowin. She’s community-driven, strong-willed and passionate about social justice. She believes in fighting the system from the inside. [Supporting role]

3. GRANDMA (55-70 years old Native/First Nations, Anishinaabe preferred, woman) the matriarch of the family, always makes more food than needed in case anyone drops by. She is so gentle and sweet but is not afraid to size up anyone that crosses her or her family in the wrong way. [Supporting Role]

 McSauby is enrolled in the Grad Film program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, one of the most prestigious film schools in the world.
“The goal of our second year is to write and direct one ten minute short film, which is expected to be produced in a very professional manner. NYU second year films are the crown jewel of the prestigious filmmaking program, and every year a number of them get to screen at worldly-renowned festivals like Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, and even the Academy Awards,” says McSauby.
Director Bio:

Shane McSauby is a citizen of the Gichi Wiikwedong Odawa Anishinaabek (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.) He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received a Bachelor’s Degree in filmmaking at Grand Valley State University in December of 2015.

In 2016, McSauby became the first Sundance Institute & Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow for his script Mino Bimaadiziwin which included participating in the Sundance Institute’s Native Filmmakers Lab in Santa Fe, NM. Shane completed his short film Mino Bimaadiziwin in October of 2017. Mino Bimaadiziwin has screened at film festivals such as Vancouver International Film Festival and Traverse City Film Festival and has been nominated for Best Short Film and Best Direction at the Eclipse Awards.

McSauby is currently in his second year of the MFA program in Writing/Directing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.


Elizabeth Peratrovich to be Featured on 2020 Native American $1 Coin

October 10, 2019 - 1:00am

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In 1945, Elizabeth Peratrovich, a Tlingit from Alaska, fought discrimination she and other Alaska Natives encountered. Fifteen years before Alaska gained its statehood, Peratrovich, as a leader of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, worked for passage in the territorial legislature to bar discrimination of Alaska Natives. Its passage was the first anti-discrimination law in the United States, prohibiting discrimination in access to public accommodations, which was passed in the Alaskan Territorial Government.

She is credited with getting the law passed.

To honor the 75th anniversary of the passage of the law, the U.S. Mint unveiled the 2020 Native American $1 coin called Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Elizabeth Peratrovich’s famous testimony in support of the anti-discrimination law.


The obverse (heads) design retains the central figure of the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000.

The reverse (tails) design features a portrait of Elizabeth Peratrovich, whose advocacy was considered a deciding factor in the passage of the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Law in the Alaskan state legislature. The foreground features a symbol of the Tlingit Raven moiety, of which she was a member.




Reverse Inscriptions



  • $1


Incused (edge) Inscriptions

  • 2020

  • Mintmark


The design was unveiled on Oct. 5 at a ceremony at Alaska Pacific University with the theme of “Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law” referring to Peratrovich’s work passing an anti-discrimination law in 1945. A bill designating November as Alaska Native Heritage Month was signed at the same event.


Wisconsin Governor Signs Executive Order Declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 10, 2019 - 1:00am

MADISON, Wis. —  Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, signed Executive Order #50, declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Wisconsin. The executive order was signed on Tuesday at Indian Community School in Franklin.

In the executive order, Gov. Evers recognized the importance of the Native Nations to Wisconsin and reaffirmed the significance of Native Nations’ sovereignty, culture, and history.


“Today, we seek to recognize and honor our state’s Indigenous communities while moving beyond a dated practice that perpetuates inaccurate teachings and honors genocide,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said. “The story of Wisconsin’s Indigenous people has long been one of resistance and resilience.  In the coming years, our administration will work to ensure that the story evolves into one that includes respect and justice.”

Both Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes, through this executive order, strongly encourage Wisconsin businesses, organizations, public institutions, and local governments to be in solidarity with Indigenous people by recognizing, celebrating and cultivating strong relationships with Wisconsin Native Nations.

There are 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin.


$2.4 million Given to TEC for diagnosis, treatment of HIV, hepatitis C and STIs

October 9, 2019 - 1:00am

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Indian Health Service has awarded $2.4 million to nine Tribal Epidemiology Centers to support American Indian and Alaska Native communities in reducing new HIV infections and relevant co-morbidities, specifically hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections. The awards were made as part of IHS’s implementation of Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America throughout Indian Country.

The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will participate in regional- and national-level coordination, provide technical assistance and disease surveillance support to communities, and support the development of community plans to end the HIV epidemic throughout Indian Country.

“While efforts to end the HIV epidemic in Indian Country are not new, what is new is a coordinated, focused, national initiative – Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan For America,” said IHS Principal Deputy Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee. “Tribal Epidemiology Centers will build capacity in specific regions that will help increase the level of HIV treatment and prevention efforts across Indian Country.”

The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will address the four strategies of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative:

(1) Diagnose— The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will analyze and report the burden of HIV and other relevant comorbidities such as other sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis C in tribal and urban Indian communities;

(2) Treat— The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will support American Indian and Alaska Native communities in identifying and treating people who are not in care, including those with a recent diagnosis of HIV, hepatitis C, or sexually transmitted infections and those who have fallen out of care.

(3) Prevent – The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will help prevent new HIV infections through collaborative partnerships among tribal, state, and local health departments, to expand and routinize HIV diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and response.

(4) Respond— The Tribal Epidemiology Centers will provide support to communities to respond to people newly diagnosed with HIV as well as to identify people who were never linked to care or those who have fallen out of care.

American Indian and Alaska Native communities experience higher rates of HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections. Confronting these intersecting epidemics requires collaboration across sectors and disciplines and the enhancement and use of existing public health and clinical infrastructures.

Resources to support this critical building block of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative were provided by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund, which is administered by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health’s Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy.

As articulated by the president during his February 2019 State of the Union address, the initiative offers an unprecedented opportunity to end the HIV epidemic in America by 2030. This initiative provides access to powerful and effective HIV prevention and treatment tools and new technology that allows us to pinpoint where infections are spreading more rapidly. By effectively providing at-risk communities including tribal and urban Indian communities with these tools, we can end the HIV epidemic in America.

Tribal Epidemiology Center recipients

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – Alaska Native Epidemiology Center


Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board – Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center


Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council – Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology
Lac Du Flambeau


Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board – Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center
Rapid City


Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. – Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona Tribal Epidemiology Center


Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board – Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center


Seattle Indian Health Board – Urban Indian Health Institute


Southern Plains Tribal Health Board – Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center
Oklahoma City


United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. – United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. Tribal Epidemiology Center


Michigan Indian Legal Services Receives Pro Bono Innovation Funding Grant

October 9, 2019 - 1:00am

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) recently announced that Michigan Indian Legal Services (MILS) would receive a $181,084 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund (PBIF) is intended to encourage and expand pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

LSC formed the Pro Bono Task Force to address the current crisis in legal services, where at least 50% of eligible low-income individuals seeking help from grantees are turned away due to insufficient resources, and 80% of civil legal needs are unmet.

Among Michigan’s Native communities, especially those located in rural areas of the state, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty level is generally much higher than the state overall. Rampant poverty and scarce legal resources contribute to a significantly greater need for effective client counsel; thus, a demand for innovative solutions exists. MILS is part of that solution by allocating practice-ready attorneys to those rural areas.

MILS will address these unmet needs by primarily recruiting late-career and retired attorneys to:

  • Provide community legal education in rural Native communities,

  • Provide mentorship to newer MILS attorneys so that MILS staff can provide high-quality legal assistance in remote communities, and

  • Provide a direct representation of clients in rural Native communities.

For more information on pro bono volunteering, please contact:
Norika Kida Betti  or  Hank Fields


People’s Bank of Seneca Becomes First Native-owned Bank to Join AFE

October 9, 2019 - 1:00am

The American Financial Exchange (AFX), the electronic interbank lending market for U.S. financial institutions, announced last week that the People’s Bank of Seneca joined the exchange, becoming the first native-owned bank to join AFX.

According to the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, there are more than 30 native-owned banks and credit unions serving underserved communities all across America. These native-owned financial institutions provide access to credit to many people living on or near tribal reservations, many of whom would not have access to credit without them.

“As a minority-owned bank, People’s Bank of Seneca is keeping the needs of our community top of mind,” said Deron Burr, President, and CEO of People’s Bank of Seneca. “By becoming a member of the [AFE] our ability to gain access to a network of banks will help us better serve our customers.”

In a press release, AFX stated that its membership now encompasses all the categories of minority-owned banks as defined by the FDIC, which includes New York City-based Abacus Federal Savings Bank and Los Angeles-based Bank of Hope and Pacific City Bank (Asian-American); Lone Star National Bank of Texas and FirstBank of Puerto Rico (Hispanic); and Georgia-based Citizen’s Bank (African American).

“We are proud and honored to announce People’s Bank of Seneca as an AFX member,” said Dr. Richard Sandor, Chairman, and CEO of the AFX. “With the addition of the People’s Bank of Seneca, AFX strengthens its commitment to add minority-owned banks. These institutions play a critical role in serving communities all over the country. Commercial logic and social value are at the core of our mission.”


In Oklahoma, a discredited reading theory is widely used

October 8, 2019 - 1:00am

OKLAHOMA CITY – In classrooms across Oklahoma and the nation, students are taught to read using a theory that has been discredited by decades of research by brain scientists.

This “three-cueing system,” first proposed in 1967, is pervasive in reading instruction and curriculum. Students are instructed to use strategies that include memorizing words, using pictures on the page to decipher a word and skipping words they don’t know.

Teaching these strategies actually makes it harder for kids to learn to read, studies show. Yet many educators and parents don’t realize there’s anything wrong with it, according to a documentary project from American Public Media’s APM Reports.

Debates over how reading should be taught have raged for decades. The three-cueing theory formed the basis for “whole language,” which took hold in the 1980s even though countless studies have favored explicit phonics instruction for all kids. Another approach used is “balanced literacy,” described as a mix of phonics instruction and whole language, but it still relies on three-cueing.

Oklahoma fourth-graders scored below the national average in reading on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card. Oklahoma’s scores actually slipped in 2017 compared to 2015.

With APM’s documentary drawing new attention to the issue among parents and educators, Oklahoma Watch spoke with Melissa Ahlgrim, reading sufficiency director for the state Department of Education about reading instruction in Oklahoma. Her responses are edited for clarity and brevity.

OW: How should schools teach students to read?

Ahlgrim: When I went to school and was trained early in my teaching career, I was trained on balanced literacy and the three-cueing system. It’s where you teach strategies to attack words and you surround kids with books and you just kind of make it more organic, which made sense to me in some ways. But as I got further into it and became a little bit more experienced as a teacher, I started noticing there are kids who aren’t getting this and I don’t have the tools to help them. When I was able to move into a district leadership position and the position I’m in now, I was learning more and more. We know through cognitive scientists how the brain learns how to read. We need to have that systemic and explicit instruction on phonological awareness and phonics.

OW: Are Oklahoma schools using the three-cueing system?

Ahlgrim: Yes, they are using three-cueing all over the place. While we have standards districts use, we do not require a certain type of curriculum or curricular method. We are trying to push out the phonics, we strongly encourage it, but it’s not something we can require. That’s a local control issue.

OW: Are you seeing a shift in schools now that there is more awareness?

Ahlgrim: I’m seeing more conversations. We’re not necessarily seeing an active shift yet. I’m hearing more questions from district leaders and principals and teachers. What they’re really struggling with – and it’s a fair struggle – is they’ve invested time and resources and money into these programs that they are now finding out may not be as effective. And they’re trying to figure out how to salvage that and what to replace it with.

OW: What is the department doing to effect changes?

Ahlgrim: We’re trying to make sure teachers are really well-informed. For emergency certified teachers, they are currently undergoing a beginning LETRS (language and literacy skills) session in order to maintain emergency certification just so they can have effective practices in their toolbox about how to help kids learn to read. And we’re always available to any district to have us come out and have a conversation with them.

OW: Does there need to be a mandate or legislation?

Ahlgrim:  Where our focus has really been on having an awareness of the research that’s out there and why this is important and the resources available. Trying to change a system is like trying to stop an ocean liner. You just do not do it immediately.

Also, this is not just an Oklahoma thing. This is a national and even an international thing. Do we teach kids how to love books or do we teach them how to decode books? Really, it’s not two different goals – it’s the same goal. It’s really hard to love books if you can’t read them. And we want them to be able to read, but we want them to get those foundational skills down first.


MMIW will be Focus on Indigenous Peoples Day in Pomona, Calif.

October 8, 2019 - 1:00am

POMONA, Calif. — The focus of the Second Annual Indigenous Peoples Day in Pomona, California will be on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman (MMIW). Tribal chairman Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra,  Rumšen Ohlone, and Gabrieleño/Kizh, invites the public to join the event at the village of Nordena (Ganesha Park) this Saturday, October 12 from 10 am – 7 pm.

This celebration will include the tipi that represents Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. This tipi is usually home in northern California. However, the A.I.M traveled to bring this tipi down to the Kizh Nation.

The families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women will be present as well as many others. They will put their handprint upon this tipi to create an everlasting message that these women were significant and important to their communities.


Repatriation Panel Examines History of Stolen Cultural Patrimony on 4 Continents

October 8, 2019 - 1:00am

CHICAGO — As part of the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Inherit Chicago month of programs, four cultural allies will present a panel discussion on repatriation of human remains and cultural patrimony October 10th at the National Hellenic Museum from 6-8 pm with a pop-up exhibit opening at 5 pm.

Demands for repatriation of lost cultural patrimony and stolen human remains make weekly headlines around the world. Join the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and the National Hellenic Museum in deepening your understanding of the complexities of repatriation in this panel discussion. The discussion will be accompanied by a photographic pop-up exhibit showing how the demands for the return of lost cultural treasures can unite ethnicities and nationalities.

Included among the panelists is Jodi Simkin, Klahoose First Nation, Director of Cultural Affairs & Heritage for Klahoose First Nation. Located in central British Columbia, the Nation has undertaken the development of a systematic framework for the research, location, and repatriation of ancestral remains and related cultural patrimony. A lifelong advocate of social justice issues, Jodi is also the Vice-President of the British Columbia Museums Association (BCMA), an appointed member of the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee, and of the Association on American Indian Affairs Repatriation Working Group. Jodi is a past presenter for the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) and of the Learned Society. Additional expert panelists for the Repatriation of cultural Patrimony event include Dr. Katherine Kelaidis, Resident Scholar at the National Hellenic Museum and Visiting Assistant Professor at DePaul University; and Zeresenay Alemseged, paleoanthropologist and Donald N. Pritzker Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. Also speaking is Elinor Pearlstein who served as Associate Curator of Chinese Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (1987-2017), following ten years at the Cleveland Museum of Art.   She currently works as an editor and independent scholar.

The Repatriation of Cultural Patrimony program is part of Inherit Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s month-long intercultural festival. Join us at 5 pm to view the popup exhibit and 6 pm for the panel discussion on Thursday, October 10th  at the National Hellenic Museum at 333 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL, 60661. Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased online at

For more information, call the Chicago Cultural Alliance: 312-846-6814.


New study shows Native Americans face higher-priced mortgage rates

October 8, 2019 - 1:00am

From the Center for Indian Country Development: New study shows Native Americans face higher-priced mortgage rates


MINNEAPOLIS — Native Americans living on reservations who want to buy homes are significantly more likely to have high-priced mortgages, and those mortgage rates average nearly two percentage points higher than for non-Native Americans outside reservations.

The bottom line? A Native American family purchasing a $140,000 home on a reservation could pay $107,000 more over the course of a 30-year loan than a non-Native American purchasing a home outside a reservation would pay.

That’s according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Center for Indian Country Development (CICD).

“This report should serve as notice to policymakers, lenders, and housing advocates that there is an urgent and deeply troubling issue around housing and mortgage costs across Indian Country,” said Minneapolis Fed Assistant Vice President and CICD Director Patrice Kunesh.

Written by CICD research economist Donna Feir and data analyst Laura Catteneo, a new working paper, “The Higher Cost of Mortgage Financing for Native Americans,” confirms that affordable access to capital and quality housing is a daunting challenge facing Native Americans, particularly those who live on or near reservations.

Feir and Catteneo’s research finds:

  • Almost 30 percent of loans made to American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) for reservation properties were a higher cost that is, costing more in interest rates than those available to non-Native Americans.

  • Only 10 percent of loans in the same time period made to non-Native borrowers for properties near reservations were higher cost; thus, three times the proportion of Native borrowers faced higher-cost loans than did non-Native borrowers.

  • While these higher-cost home loans are predominately found on reservation lands, manufactured homes account for 25 percent to 35 percent of the difference in the cost of financing.

“We believe further investigation around the manufactured home financing market structure might be necessary if home loans are going to be made equally affordable for AIAN borrowers,” said Feir.

The report concludes: “These results potentially suggest that without other institutional market reforms, promoting homeownership as a method of increasing Native American equity and assets may be less effective than for other populations.”


Osage Nation to Co-host Drone Conference that Focuses on Public Safety

October 7, 2019 - 1:00am

TULSA, Okla. — Drones have proven to be effective to combat crime, help firefighters and assist with search and rescue while keeping individuals out of harm’s way. As more and more law enforcement agencies, first responders, and emergency management organizations use Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, the need for training and sharing best practices grows.

“The integration of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems has significantly increased the safety of law enforcement personnel and the efficiency in which investigations are completed,” Matt Varney, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agent in charge/sUAS program manager said.

study by Bard College estimated 910 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency services agencies in the U.S. had drones in 2018, increasing more than 80% from the year before. That number is only expected to continue to rise this year.

The 2019 Public Safety Drone Conference will bring together experts for three days, November 5-7, 2019, in the field for demonstrations, presentations, industry panels, and networking opportunities. Industry leaders, FAA experts, and presenters from California, Colorado, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas will take part. Day passes or full conference passes are available.

“Public safety uses for drone technology continue to grow. This conference will provide valuable information to help build and operate an effective program,” Mason Goode, Osage Nation Police Department officials said.

The conference is open to federal, state, local and tribal agencies, fire departments, emergency medical professionals, and disaster response and emergency management. Law enforcement officers licensed in the state of Oklahoma can receive up to 24 hours of mandatory continuing education credit by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. Attendees from other states may seek reciprocal accreditation through their respective state’s training accreditation authority.

The event is presented in partnership with Osage Nation and Tulsa Community College.


Chickasaw Nation Governor Renews Commitment to Serve

October 7, 2019 - 1:00am

ADA, Okla. — An October 1 inauguration ceremony marked the beginning of an unprecedented ninth consecutive term for Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. The ceremony was conducted on the East Central University campus in a theater named for Chickasaw Hall of Fame member Ataloa.

“It is a great honor to serve as Governor of the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation,” said Governor Anoatubby. “Together, we have made great progress and accomplished much for our people and our nation. We can look forward to a bright and promising future as we continue to thrive and support the dreams of Chickasaws around the world.”

Other Chickasaw Nation elected officials sworn into office include newly-elected Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby, Supreme Court Justice Mark Colbert and tribal legislators Lisa Johnson Billy, Linda Briggs, Derrick Priddy, and Beth Alexander.

“It is an incredible privilege to work with you to serve Chickasaws,” said Governor Anoatubby.

Governor Anoatubby began his 44-year career with the Chickasaw Nation in 1975 as a health services director. He was elected as Lt. Governor in 1979 and served in that role until he was elected Governor in 1987. He has led the Chickasaw Nation to exponential growth in economic development as well as a comparably rapid expansion of services.

“In 1987, we set out to develop a sound economy for the Chickasaw Nation, to celebrate our rich heritage and to safeguard our sovereignty,” said Governor Anoatubby. “We have accomplished many of those goals and found new and exciting ways to continue fulfilling our mission.”

Currently, the Chickasaw Nation supports more than 22,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in wages and benefits as part of a $3.7 billion annual economic contribution to the Oklahoma economy. More than 100 businesses are included in a diverse portfolio, including gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, fine chocolate, and other industries.

“We continue to have a firm financial foundation, as our businesses strive every day to sustain our mission and enhance the lives of our people,” said Governor Anoatubby. “And they will continue to generate the revenue needed to grow our services and programs by reaching new markets, developing new business opportunities, and continuing to concentrate on good stewardship of our resources.”

Today, the Chickasaw Nation operates more than 100 successful businesses in gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, chocolate, and other industries. Business revenues provide the majority of funding for more than 200 programs and services available to the Chickasaw people and other Native Americans.


Education is one example. Expanded education offerings serve more students in early education as well as offering scholarships for higher education and vocational training. In addition, the tribe recently implemented a new division devoted to helping prepare Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.

Special emphasis is placed on developing and mentoring young Chickasaw leaders through programs such as internships, career development, and a youth leadership program.

“We support these new leaders through higher education programs across all fields, from health to business to government and academia,” Governor Anoatubby said. “We have been working for many years to ensure a sustainable future for our people.”

In addition to providing grants and scholarships totaling almost $20 million annually to more than 5,000 students, the Chickasaw Nation operates four early childhood centers, in Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo, and Sulphur, which serve more than 330 students. A range of STEM programs is also offered, which introduces students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Other educational opportunities include a Career Technology program, adult learning, fine arts training and tribal division dedicated to preparing Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.

Health Care

Significant strides in health care include a state-of-the-art 370,000 square-foot hospital, four clinics, eight pharmacies, a diabetes care center, emergency medical services, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices, and five wellness centers.

An increased focus on supporting healthy lifestyles is an integral part of the health care strategy moving forward.

“We have made great strides in the area of physical health,” said Governor Anoatubby. “But we have more that we need to do in areas of prevention. This year, we are placing a stronger emphasis on the complete health of each individual with a strategic focus on mental wellness.”


The Chickasaw Nation has also expanded and improved housing services to help meet the needs of Chickasaws from all walks of life. Those services include rental assistance as well as an increased emphasis on homeownership, including programs to facilitate home loans.

“As the housing market and the desires of people change, we will continue to develop innovative and creative solutions to solve housing needs,” said Governor Anoatubby.

Thousands of Chickasaw utilize home loan programs to make homeownership a reality.

Housing assistance for Chickasaws across the United States includes the installation of storm shelters as well as grants for closing costs. Repairs and home improvements.


“We treasure our elders and continue to learn much from their wisdom and experience,” Governor Anoatubby said.

Many programs are offered to enhance the lives of Chickasaw elders, including the operation of 11 senior centers in communities throughout southern Oklahoma and one under construction in Achille, Oklahoma. These senior centers served more than 163,000 meals this year and offer programs that focus on fellowship and health. Chore services, a senior golf academy, and a foster grandparent program are also offered to Chickasaw seniors.


“Our youth programs are an important investment in developing strong individuals and a strong nation,” said Governor Anoatubby.

Camps, academies, sports and leadership programs are offered year-round and are designed to build character, leadership, life skills and fitness. Clothing grants and reimbursement grants are also provided to ensure that youth can focus on academics without financial distractions.


“Our cultural identity is what guides us and informs our most crucial decisions, which is why cultural preservation and education efforts are so vital,” said Governor Anoatubby.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur, continues its mission of telling the Chickasaw story and sharing tribal traditions and culture. Since its 2010 opening, the cultural center has hosted more than 800,000 guests from across the globe.

Expanded programs, events, cultural and language classes also help Chickasaw citizens, employees and community members learn about the Chickasaw people and customs.

Blending modern technology with historical tradition, the Rosetta Stone Chickasaw app is also available, making the Chickasaw language easily accessible. More than 120 Rosetta Stone Chickasaw lessons have been developed through a collaboration between fluent Chickasaw speakers and Rosetta Stone.


Candi Brings Plenty Joins ACLU as Indigenous Justice Organizer

October 7, 2019 - 1:00am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Candi Brings Plenty has joined the American Civil Liberties Union as the organization’s new indigenous justice organizer for South Dakota and North Dakota.

As indigenous justice organizer, Brings Plenty works to build the ACLU’s public education and advocacy programs through coalition-building, leadership development, communication, and lobbying and is responsible for advancing the ACLU’s civil liberties and civil rights campaigns in the two states.

“Candi’s commitment to social justice, along with her background and experience in advocacy and organizing, made her a natural fit for this position,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota. “The ACLU has wanted to expand its work on indigenous issues in the region for a long time. With Candi on board, our capacity to create change is bigger than ever.”

The indigenous justice organizer is a new position for the ACLU of South Dakota, spurred on this year in part because the “riot boosting” bill Gov. Kristi Noem introduced and signed into law in the final days of the 2019 legislative session without consulting South Dakota’s nine tribes, many of whom have been vocal opponents of TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the “riot boosting” act and two other South Dakota statutes that threaten activists who encourage or organize protests – particularly protests of the Keystone XL pipeline – with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison. A federal court blocked enforcement of the unconstitutional provisions of several South Dakota laws in September.

But pipeline protests and free speech are not the only areas Brings Plenty will focus on. She also will be working to strengthen voting accessibility to tribal communities as 2020 approaches, focusing on the long-lasting epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and promoting Two-Spirit inclusion, among other issues.

As a Lakota cultural practitioner and through her spiritual activism, Brings Plenty works to bring her medicine to the Oyaté and advocates especially for the empowerment and visibility of Two-Spirit warriors to reclaim their walk of life in the sacred circle.

Prior to joining the ACLU of South Dakota, Brings Plenty was the campaign adviser and executive proxy for the tribal president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the executive director of the EQUI Institute, a trans and queer health clinic, in Portland, Ore. She also was the founder of the Two-Spirit Nation and led the Two-Spirit encampment at Standing Rock for 11 months during the peaceful prayer movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Brings Plenty graduated from Oglala Lakota College in Rapid City and earned graduate certificates in public and nonprofit management and public administration from Portland State University in Portland, Ore. Brings Plenty is an Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal member and a descendant of Crazy Horse’s Band. She grew up in the Black Hills and on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is deeply rooted in her Lakota culture, spirituality, and language.


Shaun Chapoose Officially Announces Candidacy for President of the NCAI

October 7, 2019 - 1:00am
UINTAH AND OURAY INDIAN RESERVATION — Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe and resident of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah, has officially announced his candidacy for president of the National Congress of American Indians. The election will be held during the 76th annual NCAI Convention & Marketplace in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Oct. 20-25.
Chapoose, a formal tribal chairman, currently serves as chairman of Utah Tribal Leaders, which comprises leadership from Utah’s eight federally recognized tribes. He also is the Uncompahgre Band representative for the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee and the co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. 
Over the years, Chapoose has gained extensive experience working with all of the federal agencies, and all facets of tribal business, including oil and gas management, environmental issues, farm operations, and cultural rights. He said he would like to see NCAI work with tribal leaders across the country to lead the charge in three main areas: sovereignty, self-determination, and tribal lands and resources.
“As Native peoples, we have inherent sovereignty, which has existed since time immemorial,” Chapoose said. “It was not bestowed upon us by the U.S. government, therefore it cannot be taken away. NCAI must join with tribal leaders to demand that the federal government uphold tribal sovereignty, respect the trust relationship, and honor the promises and commitments their ancestors made to ours over the past two centuries. We can, and we must, do more.”
Chapoose also is passionate about self-determination, noting that Native nations need to lead the discussion regarding what is in their communities’ best interests. He said it’s about more than having a seat at the table; rather, it’s about standing up for all tribes and insisting that the federal government honor existing treaty rights.
“We cannot go back in time,” he said, “but we also cannot forget who we are. We must work within the confines of today’s society using the tools we have available without losing sight of our ancestors, our traditions and our cultures.”
Chapoose’s concerns range from protecting health care and the Indian Child Welfare Act to preserving tribal lands and resources, including sacred sites and that most precious resource of all, water.
“We’re tied to the lands on which we’re born and raised,” he said. “They preserve our cultures, traditions and lifeways for future generations. We must protect them, effectively manage them, and when and where necessary, develop them for the benefit of future generations. 
“We also must take a leadership role in addressing climate change,” he added. “We were here first, and we’re still here. We have the knowledge and expertise to make America what it was supposed to be.”
Chapoose’s ties to NCAI run deep. Seventy-five years ago, Ute tribal leaders and other tribal leaders including his grandfather returned to Colorado, the Utes’ original homeland. Together, they formed NCAI in direct response to the threat of a U.S. policy seeking termination of their sovereignty. 
“Because it originated in Utah, our tribe was on the front lines of the termination policy,” Chapoose said. “We can bring our extensive experience to the national level, so we can work together with all tribes to address these critical issues facing Native peoples today. It’s time for us to write the history.”
For up-to-date information, follow Chapoose on Facebook ( and Twitter (@chapooseshaun). 

Veterans secretary promises better healthcare for Native and rural veterans

October 7, 2019 - 1:00am

Sec. Wilkie met with Native veterans to share that the Veterans Administration is working to increase tribal outreach virtually in cooperation with Indian Health Services

United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Leon Wilkie Jr. met with Native American veterans, tribal leaders and members of The Retired Enlisted Association in South Dakota on Wednesday to discuss efforts to help Native American military veterans, specifically in the field of healthcare.

Sec. Wilkie told Indian Country Today in an interview that he wished to “shorten the distance between people” in need of veterans services.

“In speaking with the tribal representatives today, I talked about increasing Veteran Administration's reach into tribal communities with things like telehealth, visits from VA representatives and closer cooperation between the VA and Indian Health (Services).”

Wilkie explained that Veterans Affairs — an organization responsible for nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of services offered by Indian Health Services — would be effectively “opening the aperture” on giving support to tribal governments and urban area localities.

He also explained that the methodologies for outreach needed to be updated in conjunction with the growth of technology and cited that veterans in rural areas that takes his or her life likely had none or limited access to healthcare services.

“Of the 20 veterans a day who commit suicide, who take their lives, we don't have contact with 14 of those twenty,” he said.

Wilkie also described efforts to connect Native veterans to healthcare officials using virtual technologies.

“Let me give you an example of what's happening here in South Dakota on the Standing Rock reservation and in the Cheyenne lands. We've now distributed tablets and computers that allow veterans in those communities to virtually gain access to doctors, nurses, and benefits officers. This allows us to schedule appointments for them and it brings VA a little closer to home. We've started here in South Dakota and we'll expand it. I was up in North Dakota talking to the governor yesterday and we're going to expand it there and to Montana, as well as Wyoming. So those are the kinds of things that we are doing on a national level to change the true trajectory of where Native veterans should be in relation to their VA.”

Wilkie told Indian Country Today how the Mission Act of 2018—which gives more flexibility in the health care facility used by veterans — can be an advantage when choosing a facility. He also talked about family benefits.

“If a veteran has to travel a long distance to a VA facility and that veteran passes community hospitals, urgent care clinics, individual doctors or specialty clinics, we want to make sure that that veteran knows that he or she can use those facilities and that we're not forcing them to travel those hundreds of miles if there's something along the way for them to use. The other thing that is absolutely vital, and I speak of this as the son of a gravely wounded combat soldier from Vietnam, we finally close the last circle from Vietnam by allowing the families who take care of Vietnam veterans to get financial support and material support to take care of those veterans,” explained Wilkie.

“Vietnam veterans represent the largest portion of our 9.5 million veterans who use veterans' health. I can tell you that we still have a lot of catching up to do. I can remember when my father was a senior officer in the 82nd airborne division of all units and he wasn't even allowed to wear his uniform off the post. So recognizing caregivers, family caregivers for Vietnam veterans is the very least that we can do to finally close some of the circles that opened up.”

Wilkie also stated health professionals are lauding the practice of virtual efforts or telehealth.

“I'm not a medical professional. My experience is military and department of defense, but the medical professionals tell me that this is the future in mental health because you're not forcing someone to expose himself or herself in large settings with strangers. You can have them talk to a person in the comfort of a home or familiar setting, a VSO veteran service organization, or a hall. Now, there are some people who will want that direct human contact. But if we provide that kind of variety in those options, I think we will all be better off.”

Additional efforts by the Veterans Administration

In an email to Indian Country Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Public Affairs provided a substantial list of efforts currently underway to benefit military veterans and families of veterans. Some of the efforts submitted to Indian Country Today were written as follows below:

Greater access to care through “The Mission Act of 2018”

Secretary Wilkie worked with Congress to create the MISSION Act, which streamlines VA’s community care programs, strengthens health care options for our nation’s Veterans, whether in the VA or in the community and, most importantly, centers those decisions on what is best for our Veterans.

More information about the Act can also be found at

Connecting virtually via “Telehealth”

As acting VA secretary, Secretary Wilkie announced that VA is adopting a joint electronic health record integrated across all DoD and VA components, using the same system as the Department of Defense. This will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system and enable seamless care between the VA and DoD.

Suicide Prevention

According to the latest VA data, the number of Veteran suicides decreased from 2015 to 2016, and on average, about 20 current or former service members die by suicide each day. Of those 20, six have been in VA health care and 14 were not.

As the Joint Commission explains: “The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been able to reduce the number of in-hospital suicides from 4.2 per 100,000 admissions to 0.74 per 100,000 admissions on mental health units, an 82.4% reduction, suggesting that well-designed quality improvement initiatives can lead to a reduction in the occurrence of these tragic events.”

Studies show that suicides occur less frequently on VA campuses than on non-VA campuses.

Also, according to the latest VA data:

  • The number of Veteran suicides decreased from 2015 to 2016.

  • The Veteran unadjusted suicide rate decreased from 30.5/100,000 to 30.1/100,000 from 2015 to 2016.

Additionally, since the department in 2017 began tracking suicides at VA facilities there have been more than 260 suicide attempts, 240 of which have been interrupted.

Suicide prevention is VA’s highest clinical priority. One life lost to suicide is one too many.

That’s why VA is implementing a wide range of prevention activities to address many different risk factors. We are working alongside dozens of partners, including DoD, to deploy suicide prevention programming that supports all current and former service members – even those who do not come to VA for care. Examples of joint efforts to prevent Veteran suicide include the Mayor’s Challenge and our work under Executive Order 13822.

Our approach is summarized in the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, which provides a framework for identifying priorities, organizing efforts, and contributing to a national focus on Veteran suicide prevention.

We encourage any Veteran, family member or friend concerned about a Veteran’s mental health to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255. Trained professionals are also available to chat at The lines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All VA facilities provide same-day urgent primary and mental health care services to Veterans who need them, and any time an unexpected death occurs at a VA facility, the department conducts a comprehensive review of the case to see if changes in policies and procedures are warranted.

For more info on VA suicide prevention programs, including the Veterans Crisis Line, see below and here:

VA Suicide Prevention by the Numbers

  • VA spent $12.2 million on suicide prevention outreach in the fiscal year 2018, including $1.5 million on paid media. During the fiscal year 2019, our total budget for suicide prevention is approximately $47.5 million, and we plan to spend $20 million of that budget on outreach.

  • VA suicide prevention coordinators are managing care for almost 11,000 Veterans who are clinically at high-risk for suicide.

  • Under VA’s new universal screening for suicidal intent, almost 900,000 Veterans have received a standardized risk screen since October 1, 2018.

    • More than 30,000 of these Veterans have received more complex screening based on a positive initial screen and more than 3,000 have received a full clinical assessment after screening positive.

  • VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators conducted more than 20,000 outreach events in FY18, reaching almost 2 million people.

  • In FY18, the Veterans Crisis Line:

    • Dispatched emergency services for callers in immediate danger an average of 80 times per day

    • Received an average of 1,766 calls per day

    • Received an average of 203 chats per day

    • Received an average of 74 texts per day

  • VA has achieved its goal of hiring 1,000 more mental health providers – adding 1,045 as of January 31, 2019.

  • VA made the commitment to hire additional mental health providers in June 2017 as part of VA’s top clinical priority of eliminating Veteran suicide.