FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC—Last week, the 2020 cohort of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Health Policy Fellows held their first face-to-face meeting in Washington, D.C. As part of a week’s worth of events towards training the next generation of Native health leaders, NIHB’s Youth Fellows had the opportunity to visit with all four Native lawmakers – Representative(s) Tom Cole (R-OK), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) – and engage in meaningful discussions about their experiences on Capitol Hill. The gathering marked the first time all four lawmakers had attended an event together. Each lawmaker shared about their experiences with the Indian health system, and their efforts within Congress to honor and fulfill the federal trust responsibility for health services.
“We have Democrats and Republicans, and we have men and women,” said Representative Cole (R-OK) highlighting the fact that there is currently the largest and most diverse Native caucus in congressional history. Through the sharing of personal experiences, all four members encouraged NIHB’s Fellows to apply their passion for Indian health to advocate for positive change. “I think you will be amazed how quickly you will be called to lead” Representative Mullin (R-OK) told the fellows. “I went to my first political meeting and was elected to Congress” he said. Further, Representative Haaland (D-NM) encouraged NIHB’s Youth Fellows to create their own path to advocate for change in Indian Country.
The NIHB Youth Fellows were also provided an opportunity to ask questions and inform the lawmakers about the health issues facing their own Tribal communities.