National Indian Health Board Honors Heroes in Health
WASHINGTON, DC—October 22, 2021— In a year packed with change and uncertainty, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) was pleased to recognize and honor, in a virtual setting, a group of Tribal health leaders, providers and advocates during its Outstanding Service Awards on October 6 at NIHB’s National Tribal Health Conference. NIHB presented 43 awards in the categories of Local Impact, Area/Regional Impact, National Impact, Youth Leadership and the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Jake Whitecrow Award.
“This year’s Outstanding Service Award winners are an exceptional group that, in the face of a global pandemic that has entered their homes and communities, have risen to a level of service that is far beyond outstanding. With COVID-19 dominating much of our lives these days, it’s important, now more than ever, that we share stories of resilience and perseverance across Indian Country,” said NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen. “As Tribal health professionals and citizens, we have seen the devastating impacts of COVID-19 but we have also witnessed kindness, selflessness and extreme acts of love. That is the place where our best work comes from – the heart. On behalf of the NIHB Board of Directors, I give our deepest gratitude and congratulations to all the award winners and continued blessings to their communities and the people they serve.”
2021 Jake Whitecrow Lifetime Achievement Award
The Jake Whitecrow Award, in memoriam of a beloved Executive Director of NIHB recognizes an individual with outstanding lifetime achievements in elevating health care advocacy, raising awareness or affecting positive change for Native health care. This year’s award was given to Chester Antone, formerTohono O'Odham Tribal Council who served as Chair of the Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee, Chair of the Centers for Disease Control Tribal Advisory Committee, on the National Institutes of Health Tribal Advisory Committee, and as Chair of the Health and Human Services Tribal Advisory Committee. Mr. Antone also won the National Impact Award in 2018.
Mr. Antone was nominated for his leadership and keen legislative insight by Alida Montiel, a longtime health policy analyst for the of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. “He was a soft-spoken person. It seemed like he was taking a long time to get to the point, but with him, you would see he had a view of traditional things and could translate it into what we needed today. By the time he finished explaining it, you really learned something. Because of this he was always trusted to represent the Tribes and he stepped up for the people in the Tucson area. He did not back down when working with federal and state officials. He contributed a lot to the consultation and federal policy, reinforcing Tribal issues and concerns and perspectives,” Montiel said.
2021 Youth Leadership Award
Each year, NIHB awards a young American Indian or Alaska Native for their leadership and outstanding efforts to increase the quality of healthcare, public health services or awareness of health issues within their peer group or community on a local or national level. This year’s Youth Leadership Award went toKi-shan Daniels from the Yurok Tribe with descendancy from the Trinidad Rancheria. Ms. Daniels was nominated for the impact her short digital story created with Two Feathers Native American Family Services, which generated over 38,000 views.
2021 National Impact Award
NIHB had the privilege of honoring six individuals or organizations with the National Impact Award for their tireless efforts in improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. All honorees were nominated by their peers from across the nation.
1.Verne Boerner (Native Village of Kiana)
2.Rob England (Yurok)
4.Whiteriver Indian Hospital Department of Preventative Medicine COVID-19 Field Response Team
5.Member Tribes of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA)
6.Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board Indian Country ECHO Program
“It fills my heart with joy and pride to be nominated and selected for this award. My deepest thanks to the Alaska Native health Board and Alaska Tribes for their leadership, support and guidance. We are strong together, I hope that my work has honored and will continue to honor my atting, my namesake, my grandmother as well as my family who both inspire and push me,” said Verne Boerner, former director with the Alaska Native Health Board and loyal advocate of Indian health. “Tribes are the DNA and fabric of the National Indian Health Board. It is governed by its people. Tribal sovereignty is its core. I promise to do my utmost to further NIHB’s mission today, tomorrow and for future generations.”
“The Whiteriver Service Unit COVID Field team collaborated with the White Mountain Apache Tribe to build something special over these challenging months. What started as typical contact tracing evolved into a multi-disciplinary team of cross-trained personnel that investigated, traced, tested and vaccinated thousands of persons in their homes. Our success with this model served as the basis for a new department that will continue to apply this approach to numerous high-risk conditions beyond COVID-19. This nomination validates the hard work of so many and empowers the WRSU-WMAT collaboration to continue to meet our patients anywhere they are in the community,” said Dr. Ryan Close, Director- Department of Preventative Medicine, Whiteriver Service Unit.
“I am so incredibly humbled and honored to have been awarded a National Impact Award by the National Indian Health Board. It was a privilege to have served the Tribes as an advocate on Capitol Hill, and I am so proud to have been a part of the powerful strides made in recent years. The federal government’s Treaty obligations to Tribal nations exist in perpetuity, and thanks to Tribal organizations like NIHB, our federal officials continue to be held accountable towards fulfillment of those obligations. Thank you to the Tribal leaders, entire NIHB Board of Directors, and to Stacy Bohlen for this amazing honor,” said Shervin Azami, former NIHB Congressional Relations Director, who worked tirelessly to advocate for budget and appropriations bills as well as Tribal health priorities like the reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians.
2021 Area and Regional Impact Award
This year NIHB recognized individuals and organizations with the Area and Regional Impact Award. Their respective work has affected change or impacted healthcare and public health services for their entire IHS Service Area or region.
1.Alaska Area – Diana Zirul (Kenaitze Indian Tribe)
2.Albuquerque Area – Leadership of the Kewa Pueblo Health Corporation
3.Bemidji Area – Cheri Goodwin (Red Lake Nation)
4.Billings Area - Lawrence Jace Killsback (Northern Cheyenne)
5.California Area – Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley
6.Great Plains Area – Return2Heart Foundation
7.Nashville Area – United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Tribal Epidemiology Center
8.Navajo Area – Jill Moses, M.D.
9.Oklahoma City Area – Chickasaw Nation COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Team
10.Phoenix Area – Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Emergency Management Program
11.Portland Area – Raymond Dailey (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community)
12.Tucson Area - Arizona Indians into Medicine
Former President of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and Vice Chairman of NIHB L. Jace Killsback said, “This pandemic is nothing new to indigenous people. Our collective spiritual and genetic memory reminds us, requires us to be resilient and stronger. More than ever, this past year should be a wakeup call for Native unity in our homes, on our reservations and within Indian Country, because this war for our health still includes battles against other epidemics like addiction, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health disorders. We can't be afraid of diseases because we now have weapons to fight them, to prevent death and heal our Tribal nations so our grandchildren can continue to live as indigenous on Mother Earth. Thank you to NIHB for your acknowledgement of warriors in health and their heroic work.”
“I am privileged to have worked for Navajo Area Indian Health Service in Chinle as a pediatrician and public health physician for the past 25 years. I appreciate the talented and dedicated colleagues and partners that made it possible to strengthen services for our communities. I am especially grateful to all those that worked so hard and gave so much to protect our communities throughout the biggest public health challenge of our lifetime,” Dr. Jill Moses.
2021 Local Impact Awards
The Local Impact Award acknowledges an individual or organization whose work has affected change or impacted health care on the local and/or Tribal level. There were 23 awardees at this year’s conference.
1.Alaska Area – Mark Peterson, M.D.
2.Alaska Area – SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEWOMAN Program
3.Albuquerque Area – Marissa Maxwell-Kaime
4.Albuquerque Area – Pueblo of Laguna Emergency Operations Center
5.Bemidji Area – Christine Davis (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)
6.Bemidji Area – Oneida Comprehensive Health Division
7.Billings Area - White Buffalo Recovery Center, Wind River Family and Community Healthcare
8.California Area – Alec Calac (Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians)
9.California Area - North Coast Testing Partnership, United Indian Health Services
10.Great Plains Area – Meskwaki Tribal Health Clinic
11.Great Plains Area – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Community Health Representative (CHR) Program
12.Nashville Area – Plansowes Dana (Passamaquoddy Tribe-Sipayik)
13.Nashville Area – Jason Hansana-Cofield (Shinnecock Indian Nation)
14.Navajo Area – Crownpoint Community Health Representative Outreach Program
15.Navajo Area – PPE Sewing Task Force - Fort Defiance Indian Hospital Board
16.Oklahoma City Area – Sandi Golden (Mvskoke (Muscogee) Creek)
17.Oklahoma City Area – Osage Nation's "Grow, Gather, Hunt" Summer Program
18.Phoenix Area – Sierra Fisher (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)
19.Phoenix Area – Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribal Health Clinic
20.Portland Area – Jenna Gearheart (Powhatan)
21.Portland Area – Lhaq'temish Foundation, Xwlemi' Resilience Program
22.Tucson Area – Rodrigo Villar, MD
23.Tucson Area - Tohono O’odham Legislative - Health and Human Services Committee/Council