Native American girl with mask on

Understanding How the National Indian Health Board Protects Tribes

In the United States, there are 574 federally recognized tribes. In addition to exercising political and cultural sovereignty, tribes have the right to protect and promote the health and welfare of their citizens. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, tribes are severely at risk of suffering from coronavirus, making it more essential than ever that tribes have access to health care. Organizations like the National Indian Health Board that promotes health care for tribes are crucial in ensuring the health of tribes is a priority in the U.S.

What is the National Indian Health Board?

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is a non-profit organization that ensures the federal government provides health care to tribal communities.

According to the NIHB, their mission statement is:

“Established by the Tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, NIHB seeks to reinforce Tribal sovereignty, strengthen Tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our People.”

The NIHB represents tribal governments that operate their own health care systems along with those that receive health care from the Indian Health Service (IHS). They provide several services to the tribe’s agencies, organizations, health boards, and foundations.

Services the NIHB provides include:

  • Advocacy

  • Creating new policies and analyzing performance

  • Creating new legislative with regulatory tracking

  • Communicates directly with tribes

  • Researches health issues in native people

  • Develops programs and assessment tools

  • Provides training and technical assistance programs

  • Helps manage projects

Essentially, the main goal for the NIHB is to work with tribal and federal governments to ensure that each party is up-to-date on all health care information in order to make the best possible decisions for the tribe’s health care policies.

The National Indian Health Board and COVID-19

With the rise of COVID-19 impacting tribal communities, the NIHB is diligently working to provide necessary information to tribes during this time. This includes providing resources and assistance needed to respond to the pandemic as well as informing the federal government of the needs and priorities of tribes during COVID-19.

On the NIHB’s website, they have collected numerous COVID-19 resources for tribal communities, including:

  • Webinars, calls, and events

  • Community health tools

  • Advocacy tools

  • Tribal response plans

  • Administration agency response

  • COVID-19 facts

  • CDC resources

  • Updates

According to the NIHB, they believe “that this coordinated national response is part of its sacred mission to serve the Tribes and help maintain the safety and well-being of Tribal citizens.”

If you need legal assistance with a tribal law matter, do not hesitate to call Circling Eagle Law today at (701) 401-7404.



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