Contact: April Hale at

Senate Confirms Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee as
Director of the Indian Health Service
WASHINGTON, DC—April 22, 2020—The National Indian Health Board extends congratulations to Rear Admiral (Rear Adm.) Michael Weahkee who was confirmed on April 21, 2020 by the U.S. Senate as the Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) for a four-year term. In this capacity, Rear Adm. Weahkee will continue the responsibility for administering health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives nationwide in IHS, Tribal and urban (ITU) health settings. Director Weahkee has served as the interim head of the agency for the past three years and has proven to be an effective leader of IHS through consistent, responsive and collaborative management in times of grave challenges and limited resources.

“The National Indian Health Board congratulates Director Weahkee on officially becoming head of the Indian Health Service. Director Weahkee continues to show up for Tribes during turbulent and trying times like during the 33-day government shutdown in 2019 and now in the era of Coronavirus,” said NIHB Chairperson Victoria Kitcheyan who is also a Tribal Council Member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. “Rear Admiral Weahkee has proven to be an adept and inclusive leader who has earned the trust and confidence of Tribal Nations. NIHB supports his steady leadership and pledges to continue to work closely with the Indian Health Service to advance and expand health services across the Indian health system.”
For the last three years, Rear Adm. Weahkee has traveled extensively throughout Indian Country to meet one-on-one with Tribal leaders in their home communities to understand the unique obstacles Tribes face in the health care and public health arenas – and to facilitate ways to honor the government’s trust responsibility for Indian Country’s health. Director Weahkee’s approach informs IHS’s strategic priorities in a way that keeps Tribal voices in the forefront of decision-making. Under his leadership, the quality of IHS-led consultations and listening sessions has improved as Rear Adm. Weahkee has displayed a great willingness to integrate Tribal feedback and priorities into IHS’s policy development. IHS has led Tribal consultation teleconferences around the $1.032 billion in IHS funding in the CARES Act. He has also participated in numerous national Tribal calls sponsored by NIHB.
“Rear Admiral Weahkee has been instrumental in getting Coronavirus relief funding to Tribes as quickly as possible and is in regular communications with Tribal leaders,” said Kitcheyan. “As a Tribal leader, I appreciate Director Weahkee’s thoughtful and collaborative approach in his leadership.”

An enrolled member of the Zuni Tribe, Director Weahkee previously served as the chief executive officer for the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, the largest federally-operated facility in the Indian Health Service. Rear Adm. Weahkee began his professional health care career in the United States Air Force as a public health specialist. After completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, he left the Air Force to pursue advanced hospital administration training, receiving both his Master of Health Services Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees from Arizona State University.

National Indian Health Board Mission Statement

Established by the Tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, NIHB seeks to reinforce Tribal sovereignty, strengthen Tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our People.