Contact: April Hale at or 505-728-0760
National Indian Health Board, Indian Health Service Meet to Discuss Funding for Tribal Health Programs, Services 
TEMECULA, Calif.—September 16, 2019—Yesterday, during a quarterly board meeting and in advance of the National Indian Health Board ’s (NIHB) National Tribal Health Conference , the NIHB Board of Directors met with the Indian Health Service (IHS) leadership to discuss funding for programs. The Board also voted on a new executive committee member and resolutions to support its work in Washington, DC and throughout Indian Country. 
IHS Principal Deputy Director RADM Weahkee was joined by Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs P. Ben Smith and Director of the Office of Management Services Athena Elliot. They spoke about efforts to work with NIHB to continue its current cooperative agreements that fund a portion of the organization’s advocacy and technical assistance work with tribes, like the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee and outreach and education on the Affordable Care Act.
“NIHB Board of Directors appreciates and values our partnership with IHS, and it’s at these meetings that we have an opportunity to express our concerns and recommendations to the federal agency that oversees health care services for all of Indian Country,” said NIHB Board Chairperson and Great Plains Area Representative Victoria Kitcheyan. “It’s imperative as tribal leaders and health advocates that we hold agencies like IHS accountable to their trust responsibility to provide quality health care for all tribal citizens. Funding through the IHS cooperative agreements is critical in carrying out NIHB’s mission of strengthening Tribal health systems.”

In addition to meeting with IHS, the NIHB Board of Directors also elected a new Member-at-Large to serve on the Board’s Executive Committee. Marty Wafford, who is the chairperson of the Southern Plains Indian Health Board and the current Oklahoma City Area Representative, will fill a vacancy recently created by an outgoing officer. Ms. Wafford serves as the Under Secretary of Support for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health .
“I am blessed to serve on the NIHB board and now elected to executive committee,” said Ms. Wafford. “Participation on the board helps the Oklahoma City Area have a stronger voice about our health care and makes us more informed advocates for policies made on a national level that help our people.” 
The NIHB Board of Directors also passed several resolutions, including supporting the expansion of the Community Health Aide Program; calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to hold formal Tribal consultation to finalize and implement the Tribal Public Health Agenda; elevating the position of the IHS Director to Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS); and urging Congress to establish an “indefinite discretionary” appropriation for IHS to fund lease obligations under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Passed resolutions guide the policy and advocacy plan for the organization. 

This week, NIHB brings together more than 600 Tribal leaders, health providers, health experts and advocates to focus on strengthening health policy through advocacy and federal relations and highlights that health is a key component of the federal trust responsibility and a pathway to sovereignty. 
Social media information:
  • Facebook: /NIHB1972
  • Twitter: @NIHB1
  • Hashtags: #NIHB #NTHC2019 #healthytribalcommunities #IndianCountry #Nativehealth
About the National Indian Health Board
Founded in 1972, NIHB is a 501(c) 3 not for profit, charitable organization providing health care advocacy services, facilitating Tribal budget consultation and providing timely information, and other services to all Tribal governments. NIHB also conducts research, provides policy analysis, program assessment and development, national and regional meeting planning, training, technical assistance, program and project management. NIHB presents the Tribal perspective while monitoring, reporting on and responding to federal legislation and regulations. It also serves as conduit to open opportunities for the advancement of American Indian and Alaska Native health care with other national and international organizations, foundations corporations and others in its quest to build support for, and advance, Indian health care issues.
Venue - Pechanga Casino & Resort
The Pechanga Casino & Resort is located at 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, California, 92592.

Visit their website to learn more!
Host Member Organization -
California Rural Indian Health Board
NIHB would like to thank the California Rural Indian Health Board for their collaboration and participation as the host member organization of the 36th Annual National Tribal Health Conference!
For questions regarding the conference, please email or
call 202-507-4070.
Created by the Tribes in 1972, the National Indian Health Board exists to advocate on behalf of all 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to ensure the fulfillment of the trust responsibility to deliver health and public health services as assured through treaties, and reaffirmed in legislation, executive orders and Supreme Court cases.