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November is National Native American Heritage Month

During November, the nation collectively recognizes the achievements, contributions and rich culture of the Native Americans.

History Native American Heritage Month was first recognized in 1915 with the annual meeting of the Congress of the American Indian Association, building upon previous work of Dr. Arthur C. Parker. Despite this proclamation, various states began organizing days of commemoration at different times of the year. It wasn’t until 1990 that a joint resolution from the White House was issued, designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Learn more about the history of Native American Heritage Month from the Library of Congress.

Health Concerns American Indians and Alaska Natives have a unique relationship with the federal government. Tribes exist as sovereign entities, but federally recognized tribes are entitled to health and educational services provided by the federal government. Though the Indian Health Service (IHS) is charged with serving the health needs of these populations, more than half of American Indians and Alaska Natives do not permanently reside on a reservation, and therefore have limited or no access to IHS services. Though often referred to as a singular group, American Indians and Alaska Natives represent diverse cultures, languages and customs unique to each community. Health challenges, however, have not been as unique with many Native American communities similarly experiencing the harsh impact of diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, stroke and infant mortality.

Profile: American Indian and Alaska Native Health Statistics by Disease Leading Causes of Death Other Critical Health Issues Find Journals and Publications Affordable Care Act and Native Americans The Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care law, was created to expand access to coverage, control health care costs, and improve health care quality and coordination. The ACA also includes permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act , which extends the current law and authorizes new programs and services within the Indian Health Service.

More about the Affordable Care Act and Native Americans Fact sheet: The ACA and American Indian and Alaska Native People

Our Work Delivery of health services and funding of programs to maintain and improve the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives are consonant with the federal government’s historical and unique legal relationship with Indian Tribes. In recognition of this, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supports research on improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. American Indian and Alaska Native Health Research Advisory Council (HRAC) American Indian/Alaska Native Health Disparities Program Grantees All grants and cooperative agreements American Indian/Alaska Native Tribal Initiative Awards (TIHA) Native Generations , an infant mortality awareness campaign Circle of Life , a multimedia HIV/AIDS/STI curriculum for Native youth National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services

Ways to Commemorate Native American Heritage Month

Educate yourself! Read up on the history of the Native people of the Americas and the creation of Native American History Month.

Raise awareness! Organize a community event to raise awareness about the health disparities that exist among Native American communities.

Get covered! Learn more about affordable health care options now available to you and your family and spread the word.

Share your story! How are you celebrating Native American Heritage Month? What’s happening in your organization or community? Share your story or tweet with us throughout the month.

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