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Indian Health Service Today

The Indian Health Service (IHS) began on July 1, 1955, a year after the transfer of Native American health services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to the Public Health Service (PHS). However, IHS publications appeared with greater frequency in the 1970s and 1980s. A selection of these are shown here.

Construction of hospitals was a major concern for the IHS in early years. Some of these facilities were built in fairly remote areas, like Kotzebue Hospital. It was built in 1961 to serve the health care needs of northern Alaska Natives. See the image above, depicting ceremonies that attended the opening of Kotzebue Hospital.

The IHS over the past decade has been involved in educating the Native American public about Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Two AIDS posters displayed on the wall behind this exhibit case were produced with the help of the IHS [not shown in online exhibition].

The IHS is today assisted in its duties by other government agencies of the PHS, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH agencies represented here are the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Exhibit Case 7

The Indian Health Program of the U.S. Public Health Service, IHS, 1972 [report not shown in online exhibition].

Map of IHS facilities (c.1984) in Indian Health Service: A Comprehensive Health Care Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

NIDA invokes the words and image of Sitting Bull (Tanka Yotanka) in a pamphlet directed at the Native American community, 1980.

Community Health Representative: A Changing Philosophy of Indian Involvement, Indian Health Service (IHS), 1969.

A young patient observes a medicine man (on the right) and helper prepare a sandpainting as part of her healing ceremony.
The Navajo Area Indian Health Service Today, IHS, 1980.

A Description of the Program: Alaska Area Native Health Service, IHS, 1979 [report not shown in online exhibition].

NIAMS doctor examines a Pima woman on a reservation in Arizona, c.1980s [photographic reproduction/Images from the History of Medicine (IHM)].

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Last updated: 20 April 1998