Honoring American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
This November, we are recognizing American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, which honors the legacy of Indigenous peoples across our nation. As we begin this month-long observance, we hold both grief and celebration as we recognize the pain and oppression Native peoples have faced while honoring their history of resilience, diverse cultures, and lasting heritage.
Our nation’s story begins with Indigenous peoples, yet American Indian and Alaska Native communities have long been underserved in healthcare systems.
There is a critical need for PA programs across the nation to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion to address health disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. According to the NCCPA (2020), only 0.4% of PAs are American Indian or Alaska Native. Research has shown that health professional students who originate from rural areas or spend a year of clinical rotations in an underserved setting are more likely to practice in a rural community (Journal of Physician Assistant Education, 2003). The same holds true for underrepresented medical students, who are also more likely to practice in systemically minoritized communities.
This month, we encourage you to learn more about important services and programs available to address health disparities and increase outreach to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Locate Your Local Indigenous Communities:
Identify whose Native land you are occupying: Native Land Digital is an Indigenous-led compilation of territory maps, language, and treaties information according to Indigenous nations.
Do you know your local tribal representatives? Contact local tribal communities with the Tribal Directory Assessment Tool (TDAT), links tribes’ geographic areas of current and ancestral interest, to the county level, to provide contact information.
HRSA Tribal Health Resources:
- Grants for Underserved Populations
- Loans & Scholarships
- Shortage Designation: Health Professional Shortage Areas & Medically Underserved Areas/Populations
- HRSA and American Indians and Alaska Natives
- CDC Tribal Health
- SAMHSA SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance Center
- SAMHSA National Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda
- Rural Tribal Health – Funding & Opportunities
- Tribal Colleges and Universities
- National Council of Urban Indian Health
- National Indian Health Board
Funding Resources (via National Center for American Indian Health Professions):
- Indian Health Services offers scholarships and loan repayment programs
- American Indian Graduate Center provides scholarships annually
- Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service offers loan repayment potential
- American Indian Education Fund provides scholarship opportunities
- Financial Resources for Native American Students – The list contains over 100 scholarships, grants, and internships specifically for Native American students.
- Emergency Fund Calculator – This handy online calculator helps students be prepared for the unexpected. With drop out rates for Native Americans at twice the national average, this tool can help students have enough money saved for an emergency.
- Online Budgeting Tools – This comprehensive guide to online budgeting tools and apps helps make budgeting easier.