Dear President Obama,
For more than forty-four years, I’ve relied on Indian Health Services, and I’ve had a lot of struggles. Luckily, I’ve managed to stay healthy overall. But, now, I have some serious dental problems, and IHS hasn’t been able to help.
IHS simply doesn’t have the resources to serve the Indian community. Rosebud has the facilities and equipment of a real hospital, but doesn’t have the funding to staff it. When my daughter was about to be born, we wanted her to be delivered in her ancestral homeland, on the Rosebud Reservation. There weren’t any obstetricians that day, though, so we had to go to Nebraska for a doctor!
There are many great people within IHS, but they can do only so much with the limited resources provided them. This represents a failure of the U.S. government to fulfill its obligations under the Fort Laramie treaty and its trust relationship with American Indian people. My hope is that sharing our stories will lead to unity and affirm a commitment to affordable health care for all. It is a basic human right.
Andrew Iron Shell
Rapid City, South Dakota
The Choice Before Us: Letters to President Obama is also available in PDF format. Edited and compiled by the Center for Community Change, Northwest Federation of Community
Organizations and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.