Alaskan Indians and Native Americans are entitled to government-funded health care under contracts negotiated between tribal nations and the US government.
“Our contracts state that we have a right to health care from the federal government,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, a registered member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and executive vice president of the Seattle Indian Health Board. “This is supposed to be quality health care that is provided to enrolled members of nationally recognized tribes free of charge because we have already paid for it with the land where the United States is located.”
However, according to a 2018 report by the independent and bipartisan Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. government has not adequately funded these programs, leaving many indigenous communities unable to provide quality care.
“Unless we get the resources we need, it will always be a struggle for us to address the underlying health conditions that have arisen as a result of colonial oppression and repression of both our health and our economic prosperity.” within the Indian country, “said Echo-Hawk.” Until we see full funding for the Indian health service, we will always struggle to do more than just meet the immediate needs of our people. “
In an email statement sent to CNBC, the Indian health service said it has received more than $ 9 billion in “historic investment” to address long-standing Indian health inequalities since the Covid-19 pandemic began and address Alaskan Natives to ensure a comprehensive public health response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “
Watch the video above to learn how federally funded Alaskan health care works, and why many activists and experts want the system to be reformed.