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June 26, 2023: IHS Updates for Tribes and Tribal and Urban Indian Organizations

This bi-weekly update provides up to date information on Indian Health Service and other federally-hosted meetings, conferences, deadlines and recognition from across the Indian health system. For more information or questions, email

IHS Announces New Area Directors

Last week, the IHS announced the appointments of two new area directors in the Great Plains and Navajo Areas. Joe Amiotte, director for the IHS Great Plains Area, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and has served as the acting director for the Great Plains Area since November 2022. DuWayne Begay, director for the IHS Navajo Area, is a member of the Navajo Nation and most recently served as chief operating officer and acting deputy chief executive officer of the Gallup Service Unit and as the executive officer of the Navajo Area. In their new positions, Amiotte and Begay are responsible for ensuring the provision of comprehensive health care services to tribes in their respective areas within the Indian health system.

Joe Amiotte
DuWayne Begay

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Annual Regional Tribal Consultations

The IHS has actively been participating in HHS Regional Tribal Consultation sessions with tribal leaders from across Indian Country. Last week, Deputy Director for Field Operations Rear Adm. Chris Buchanan joined HHS colleagues for the HHS Region VII Tribal Consultation in Kansas City, Missouri, to consult with federally recognized tribes in the region. The sessions are designed to provide tribal leaders with the opportunity to guide the department on improving tribal outreach and coordination and discuss programmatic and policy issues. The IHS provides updates on work across the Indian health system and outlines how the agency can provide high-quality health and resource needs in tribal communities. The IHS appreciates the input and guidance from tribal leaders as we work to improve the health and well-being of our patients, communities and people.

IHS Improves Care and Services for Patients across Indian Country

The IHS is actively working to improve the care and services provided to nearly 2.7 million American Indian and Alaska Natives throughout Indian Country. IHS leadership implemented the 2023 Agency Work Plan in January, which outlines priorities that will guide agency improvements, complement ongoing activities to improve patient safety and provide oversight of our programs. Alongside these priorities, the IHS continues to address findings and recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General on the design and implementation of IHS policies established to protect patients and hold employees accountable. The IHS has developed numerous tasks, initiatives, programs, and projects to implement the OIG recommendations. Every component of this work is critical to support agency improvements and IHS will continue to highlight our progress. To learn more about agency progress, read the latest IHS blog.

IHS and VA Launch New Map Application for Native Veterans

The IHS and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have launched a new interagency map application to increase access to health care, community-based resources, and other essential services for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The interactive map application integrates location-based data from 41 urban Indian organizations with 82 locations and 1,500 VA health care facilities, creating an immersive one-stop platform for Native veterans to search and explore health care and other supportive services. The development of the map application is a part of the Native American Veteran Homelessness Initiative, a multi-agency effort led by the White House Council on Native American Affairs Health Committee, including VA, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Housing and Urban Development. To learn more, read the press release.

IHS and VA Launch New Map Application for Native Veterans

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Haaland v. Brackeen

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutional legality of the Indian Child Welfare Act in Haaland v. Brackeen. The decision, which comes after months of collective advocacy from Indian Country, ensures that children who are in the system waiting for family placement will not lose their identity, citizenship or access to critical services promised by the federal government. The IHS is pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision, which recognizes tribal sovereignty and its impact on our children. Along with federal partners, the agency can continue working with tribes to keep our children, families and cultures safe, healthy and thriving. The positive impact of the decision will be felt deeply for generations to come.

Personnel Update

Capt. Jana M. Towne, RN, BSN, MHA, an enrolled member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, has been appointed as the acting Deputy Director for Quality Health Care. In this position, Capt. Towne will work to ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives receive the highest quality, patient-centered, safe, and reliable care through the IHS direct service health care programs. She is also responsible for ensuring that quality-based guidance is implemented in a consistent and standardized manner. Capt. Towne has been the acting director for the IHS Office of Quality since April 2023, and the IHS appreciates her continued support and leadership.

Capt. Jana Towne

Acting Deputy Director for Quality Health Care Capt. Jana Towne, RN, BSN, MHA

IHS Announces New Senior Executive Service-Level CEO Positions

The IHS recently announced the appointments of five Senior Executive Service-level chief executive officer positions at IHS facilities across Indian Country. In 2022, the IHS was allocated 12 additional SES positions to elevate using existing CEO roles at various service units, bringing the total number of SES positions across the agency to 38. The first five of the 12 include:

  • Shelly Harris, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa – CEO, Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility, IHS Great Plains Area
  • George Valliere, an enrolled member of the Shawnee, Quapaw, and Cherokee Tribes – CEO, Claremore Indian Hospital, IHS Oklahoma City Area
  • Cmdr. Daryl Dineyazhe-Toya, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation – CEO, Crownpoint Service Unit, IHS Navajo Area
  • Capt. Katrina Leslie-Puhuyaoma, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe – CEO, Shiprock Service Unit, IHS Navajo Area
  • Barbara Asher, a member of the Cherokee Nation – CEO, Colorado River Service Unit, IHS Phoenix Area

To learn more, read the most recent press release.

National Indian Health Board – Board of Directors Meeting

Last week, IHS Director Roselyn Tso met with the National Indian Health Board’s Board of Directors during their 2023 second quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C. Director Tso’s updates to the board covered IHS leadership visits across Indian Country to further identify progress and priorities, the IHS and Department of Veterans Affairs interagency partnership to increase access to health care services for Native veterans, and other topics. The IHS is grateful for the work NIHB coordinates with our tribal partners, and the IHS looks forward to continued partnership.

Upcoming Deadline: Funding to Address Alzheimer’s and Dementia Models of Care

Tomorrow, June 27, is the IHS FY 23 cooperative agreement application deadline for awards that provide resources to address Alzheimer’s and dementia. Administered by the Division of Clinical and Community Services, the notice of funding opportunity for tribes, tribal entities and urban Indian health organizations for two-year cooperative agreements up to $200,000 per year is available on To learn more, read the IHS blog, view a series of recent webinars designed to support funding applicants or view the 2023 Alzheimer’s Funding opportunity page. For questions or to speak with the IHS Elder Health Team about your project ideas, contact

IHS Leadership Visits Billings Area

Director Roselyn Tso recently visited the Billings Area with senior staff as a part of the IHS leadership tour for 2023. Throughout the week, leadership had the opportunity to meet with several tribal councils and health care facility leadership teams to speak on the shared commitment to ensuring all facilities are actively meeting the needs of the tribal communities they serve. Director Tso toured several health care facilities across Montana to see the great work being done to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.

IHS Leadership Visits Billings Area
IHS Leadership Visits Billings Area

(Photo 1) Visit to Indian Family Health Clinic (Photo 2) Visit to Little Shell Tribal Health Clinic

IHS Leadership Visits Billings Area
IHS Leadership Visits Billings Area

(Photo 1) Visit to Helena Indian Alliance Health Center (Photo 2) Visit to Butte Native Wellness Center

Men's Health Month: Cancer and the Role of Stigma

During Men’s Health Month in June, team members from the IHS Division of Clinical and Community Services collaborated to highlight the topic of cancer and the role of stigma surrounding men’s health. Dr. Kevin Gaines, chief medical officer with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, has worked extensively with patients with cancer diagnoses. In the most recent IHS Blog, Dr. Gaines shares his perspectives on providing care and destigmatizing cancer as part of raising awareness of men's health.

Men's Health Month: Cancer and the Role of Stigma

IHS Navajo Area Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Gaines examining a patient

Save the Date

Latest IHS Blogs

Other News

June National Pharmacy Council 2023 Monthly Spotlight – Dr. Emily Lothspeich, Bemidji Area

The National Pharmacy Council recognizes the work of Dr. Emily Lothspeich, Cass Lake IHS pharmacy resident in the Bemidji Area, for her leadership in implementing asthma services in primary pharmacy clinics as a quality improvement measure. Adding these services provides a holistic approach to improving the quality of care and patient experience. The timely implementation of these services supports the IHS Asthma Control in Tribal Communities Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to reduce asthma-related morbidity and mortality among American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Dr. Emily Lothspeich, Bemidji Area

Dr. Emily Lothspeich, Cass Lake IHS pharmacy resident

IHS Leadership Visit Alaska Area Health Centers

Dr. Matthew Clark, chief medical officer of the Alaska Area Native Health Service, and Dr. Christopher Jarvis, director of the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, recently visited the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Community Health Aide Program Training Center and the Dena'ina Wellness Center. ANTHC is one of four CHAP training centers operated by the Alaska tribal health system, supporting the education of community health aides, practitioners and many others who serve Alaska tribal communities. The Dena’ina Wellness Center is an integrated medical facility operated by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, providing comprehensive, holistic health care services on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. The IHS is pleased to learn from the outstanding work being performed by tribal health partners in Alaska to improve the health of their communities.

Dr. Matthew Clark and Dr. Christopher Jarvis visit the ANTHC CHAP Training Center

Dr. Matthew Clark and Dr. Christopher Jarvis visit the ANTHC CHAP Training Center

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the IHS joined federal partners and organizations worldwide in calling attention to the under-recognized and under-reported problem of elder abuse. This day is an opportunity for tribal communities to learn and raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and find ways to make a difference in the lives of elders. While elders are highly respected and revered in tribal communities, a disturbing number are victims of abuse and neglect. For information, stories, tools and updates about elder abuse and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, follow the National Center for Elder Abuse on social media or visit the Administration for Community Living’s event webpage.