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Historical and Current Contexts for the Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda

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The Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda (TBHA) provides background on the historical and current contexts of tribal communities, data on targeted behavioral health issues faced by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and health care service system issues and considerations. In each main section below you will find an abbreviated link to the Section in the original TBHA document. Additionally, you will find current links and information regarding federal programs and initiatives that address the topic area.

The Historical and Current Contexts

The Historical and Current Contexts

View Section Two: Historical and Current Contexts (PDF | 7.9 MB).

  • The United States has a unique government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes that is grounded in the U.S. Constitution, numerous treaties, statutes, Federal case law, regulations, and executive orders that establish and define a trust relationship with Indian tribes.
  • Within the boundaries of the United States, there are currently 574 federally recognized and dependent sovereign American Indian and Alaska Native nations, tribes, rancherias, villages, and pueblos and 55 state-recognized tribes.

Learn more about Historical and Current Contexts:

Behavioral Health: State of Urgency

Behavioral Health: State of Urgency

View Section Three: Behavioral Health: State of Urgency (PDF | 7.9 MB).

American Indian and Alaska Native communities are aware of the physical health challenges of their people, but there are also behavioral health challenges that are often more difficult to discuss and that also impact overall health and well-being. These behavioral health challenges are associated with increased exposure to trauma, depressive symptoms, substance misuse, and suicidal thoughts.

  • Trauma Informed Care - IHS offers web-based training on trauma informed care (TIC). IHS TIC training has been modified and adapted to address the unique experiences, including historical trauma, of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • TIP 61: Behavioral Health Services for American Indians and Alaska Natives - TIP 61 provides behavioral health professionals with practical guidance about Native American history, historical trauma, and critical cultural perspectives in their work with American Indian and Alaska Native clients. The TIP discusses the demographics, social challenges, and behavioral health concerns of Native Americans.

Health Care and Supportive Service Considerations

Health Care and Supportive Service Considerations

View Section Four: Health Care and Supportive Service Considerations (PDF | 7.9 MB).

  • Indian Health Service – The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people, and provides a comprehensive health service delivery system.
  • Office of Urban Indian Health Programs
  • Native American Veterans – According to the Department of Defense, American Indians and Alaska Natives have one of the highest representations in the armed forces. VA consults with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments to develop partnerships that enhance access to services and benefits by Veterans and their families. VA is committed to ensuring that Native American Veterans and their families are able to utilize all benefits and services they are entitled to receive.

  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Division of Tribal Affairs works closely with American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities and leaders to enable access to culturally competent healthcare to eligible to CMS beneficiaries in Indian Country. CMS collaborates with the Indian Health Service and other federal partners to facilitate access to high quality and timely healthcare.

  • National Quality Accountability Dashboard – The Indian Health Service dashboard monitors and reports information on compliance with IHS policy requirements, accreditation standards, or regulations at hospitals and ambulatory health centers. The tool also supports oversight and management and will allow IHS to make fact-based decisions to ensure quality and safety of care.

  • Conducting Research in Tribal Communities – National Institute of Justice Conducting research in tribal communities involves forging partnerships with tribal governments.
  • Supporting Ethical Research Involving American Indian/Alaska Native Populations (PDF | 1.1 MB)
  • Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) – The Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program funds federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes and organizations for health research, research career enhancement, and research infrastructure enhancement activities. Components of each NARCH award may be supported jointly by NIGMS and additional participating NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices with research missions well-aligned with the proposed activities.
  • Tribal Epidemiology Centers are an Indian Health Service who serve American Indian/Alaska Native Tribal and urban communities by managing public health information systems, investigating diseases of concern, managing disease prevention and control programs, responding to public health emergencies, and coordinating these activities with other public health authorities.

Last Updated

Last Updated: 02/05/2024

Last Updated