U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Bemidji Area

About Bemidji Area

The mission of the Bemidji Area Indian Health Service (IHS) Office located in Bemidji, Minnesota, is to partner with the IHS direct service units/tribes/urban programs (I/T/U) in raising the health status of Indian people through consultation, support and advocacy. Within the Bemidji Area, which includes Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, there are 34 federally recognized tribes, four urban programs and 3 federal direct service units that provide comprehensive health services for over 110,000 Indian people. Still occupying those areas today, where they earlier settled, are the Chippewa/Ojibwe, Ottawa/Odawa, Potawatomi, Menominee, Ho-Chunk, and Sioux/Dakota. Only the Oneida, a member of the Iroquois of upstate New York, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Band (originally from Massachusetts) were resettled in the area from greater distances.

According to data from the 2000 Census, the projected 2010 service population for the Bemidji Area service delivery counties exceeded 125,000. The service populations are estimated based on the official census data of self-identified Indians who may or may not use IHS services and are projected using vital statistics received by National Center for Health Statistics from state departments of health.

The Bemidji Area is unique in that 97.0 percent (as of FY '11) of the annual funding allocation is distributed among the 34 tribes through contracts and self-governance compacts. Each tribe contracts or compacts with IHS for health services ranging from outreach and contract health care to fully comprehensive health delivery systems, including environmental health services and sanitation facilities, and health facilities construction.

The major role of the IHS Area Office staff, and the field office in Rhinelander, Wisconsin has evolved to primarily advocacy, policy development, and budget formulation and to strengthen the partnership role with tribes/urban programs. Both tribal and IHS locations use a health team approach for successful program design, implementation and evaluation. The growth of community-based services results from tribes becoming more involved with the management of health care delivery to their own people, and in response to the need to get services into the community, not from just providing services at a central location. This is particularly important in the Bemidji Area, as many tribal members are geographically isolated from towns and community centers where most health care is available.

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