Opinion

Healing Indian Healthcare Wounds

Sara Jumping Eagle
Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D.

I’m an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation [and] a pediatrician doing an adolescent medicine fellowship at Denver Children’s Hospital. I enjoyed the article, “Indian Culture Strives to Survive” [September]. It was interesting and reflected what I’ve seen in Native communities, urban or reservation.

The [federal] Indian Health Service (IHS) has long been remiss in creating prevention programs in general, on or off reservations. Yet native youth, in urban areas especially, are not receiving health care services that have been guaranteed by agreements and treaties our federal government entered into with sovereign tribal nations long ago.

The IHS has focused on care of chronic disease and acute care. If the service does not create prevention programs for problems such as those your article mentioned (substance abuse, smoking, obesity), the task before us will be akin to placing many Band-Aids on a gaping wound.

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