‘American Diagnosis’: When Indigenous Peoples Move to Cities, Health Care Funds

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Episode 12: Indigenous and invisible in big cities

More than 70% of indigenous people in the United States live in urban areas. But urban Indian health accounts for less than 2% of the Indian Health Service’s annual budget.

While enrolled members of federally recognized tribes can access Indian health services or tribally run health care on their reservations, tribals living in cities may find themselves without access to the care they deserve.

“Just because we’re living in an urban area now doesn’t mean we have to give up our benefits,” said Esther Lucero, president and CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board.

The Seattle Indian Health Board is one of many urban clinics across the United States that have opened to address the discrimination and lack of services faced by indigenous people in cities. These clinics work to meet the cultural and formal needs of the populations they serve.

“We are much more than a community health center or a place that provides direct services. We’re a home away from home,” Lucero said.

Episode 12 explores the barriers indigenous people face in accessing quality health care in cities and the efforts of urban Indian clinics to meet the needs of this population.

Voiceover from the episode:

  • Esther LuceroPresident and CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board
  • Dr. Patrick RockCEO of Indian Health Board of Minneapolis
  • Douglas Milleris an associate professor of Native American history at Oklahoma State University
  • Richard WrightA spiritual health advisor to the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis

Season 4 of “American Diagnosis” is co-produced by KHN and Just Human Productions.

Includes our editorial advisory board Jordan Bennett-Begaye, Alistair Bitzoiand Brian Pollard.

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