During 2020, while COVID-19 was raging across the nation, my tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, N.C., took intense measures early on, shutting down the Qualla Boundary (our tribal lands), implementing mass testing, contract tracing and case isolation. Tribal leaders and elders feel a sense of urgency about preserving the culture and language, as was demonstrated during the worst of the pandemic when Native language speakers were prioritized to receive the vaccine by some tribes.
In the end the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians handled the pandemic more effectively than many other areas in North Carolina, ensuring elders’ legacies.... Read More
It’s Time to Stop Neglecting the Needs of American Indian and Alaska Native Caregivers
This article originally appeared on Generations, American Society on Aging.
Editor’s Note: This article represents the second in a series by the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) to be published in Generations Today. Articles are connected to ASA-hosted webinars; see end of article to register. The series of articles by the DEC highlights research from The Caregiving Initiative, a multiyear research project funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation.
As is now well-known, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. For American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, the virus has proven to be extremely deadly for people living in both rural and urban settings. Additionally, COVID-19 rates may be higher in this group due to persistent.... Read More
NICOA Hosts Focus Groups with American Indian Caregivers
Earlier this year, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) had the opportunity to host several focus groups with American Indian family caregivers in New Mexico. NICOA organized four focus groups with a total of 31 participants. The purpose of the groups was to learn more about these caregivers’ experiences helping an older family member or friend who has health problems and disabilities. During the focus groups, we learned about their caregiving duties, the challenges they face, and their encounters with healthcare professionals.
Our focus groups revealed how caregivers’ lives are impacted by their role as caregivers. Many American Indian caregivers spoke about skipping appointments and neglecting their own.... Read More
Serving Diverse Populations: Strengthening the Aging Network’s Cultural Competency
The National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) is a member of both the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) and the Elder Equity Consortium. Both entities work to provide education and outreach to the Aging Network and other stakeholders. As a result of discussions initiated by Heather Chun of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) with Amy Gotwals and Rebecca Levine from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), our Consortium partners were invited to participate in a webinar series titled Serving Diverse Populations: Strengthening the Aging Network’s Cultural Competency. Not only did we.... Read More
Senior Day at the Roundhouse Provides an Opportunity for Dialogue
The New Mexico Legislature meets every year in January. During that time, the legislators hold an open house where they invite elders and those who work with elders to visit them for a one-day event. This community event is a great place to learn about NM resources available for elders. It is also a chance for elders to educate policymakers about the impact their decisions can have.
Bright lights and big cities: they’re attracting more and more American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) to move toward urban and metropolitan areas at an ever-quickening pace. Just before World War II, almost all – some 92% – of AI/ANs lived on reservations. Now it’s nearly the opposite, with almost 80% of AI/ANs living off tribal lands.
The push toward the cities was not always a voluntary one. After decades of removal policies and war aimed at fighting and slaughtering AI/ANs, the federal government’s approach turned into one of “killing the Indian, but saving the man.” This meant programs aimed at ‘educating’ AI/ANs.... Read More
In 1976, NICOA was founded by the National Tribal Chairman’s Association, which coordinated the first conference on Indian Aging. It was held in Phoenix, Arizona and was given the theme “The Indian Elder, a Forgotten American.” Since the beginning, the conference has served as the leading.... Read More
How Digital Storytelling Can Help You Advocate for Your Work
The National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) recently worked with the native group nDigiDreams to gather elders to tell their stories about their lives and how their experiences were impacted by federal programs such as the Older Americans Act, Social Security, healthcare and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).
Digital storytelling offers unique differences from other approaches which is why we thought it would be a good fit for our Native elders. The video production team, Brenda Manuelito and Carmella Rodriguez, are Native women who have created over 1500 digital stories across the country..... Read More
New Mexico Pueblo of Isleta Elder Center Sets High Standard for Service and Care
Randella Bluehouse, Executive Director, and other staff from the National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. were attending the Annual New Mexico Conference on Aging at Isleta Resort and Casino when they were invited for an informal tour of the Pueblo of Isleta Elder Center. The Center opened in May 2015. The design, construction, implementation and staffing of the center was an undertaking that required the dedicated efforts of many tribal leaders, members and other champions.
Regulatory Monitor Juan Rey Abeita showed the NICOA staff around the new facility. The building is beautiful, welcoming and elegant with meaningful symbols and photos of tribal members throughout. But a building does not come to life without the energy and.... Read More
NICOA to Develop Online Elder Resource for American Indian/Alaska Natives across Indian Country
The National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. (NICOA) is preparing to launch a first of its kind online Elder resource directory for American Indian/Alaska Natives and the Aging Network called “Tribal Footprints.” The directory will be designed as an Elder-friendly website for searching critical health and social services and resources, categorized by tribal name, region and community service type. Twenty-seven Tribal Leaders have already agreed to participate in the much anticipated project, with more signing on weekly.
“We are honored and excited as this resource will also link and coordinate.... Read More
Enthusiasm and Partnerships Overcome the Vastness of Alaska for Healthcare Enrollment (National Minority Health Month)
In recognition of National Minority Health Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to the health disparities and health issues affecting diverse older adults during April. A new story will be shared every Wednesday with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of April.
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) has a bold vision: to ensure that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. By working to ensure that all Alaska Native and American Indians in Alaska have health insurance, the ANTHC is helping to eliminate long entrenched health disparities. ANTHC was formed almost 20 years ago as a nonprofit health organization.... Read More
Creative Approach Leads to Success in Enrolling American Indians and Alaska Natives in the New Mexico Health Insurance Marketplace
Recently, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) spoke with Roxane Spruce Bly, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, who has been leading the ACA outreach and enrollment effort for American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in New Mexico. Ms. Spruce Bly brings invaluable experience in the field of health policy research, analysis, and development. She is the Director of Healthcare Education and Outreach for Native American Professional Parent Resources (NAPPR), Inc. NAPPR is one of two navigator entities in New Mexico.
She reflects that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) got off to a rocky start but her team turned that barrier into an opportunity to focus on outreach and education. The older Indians they target are those in the 55–64.... Read More