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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].


A map of the United States denoting the Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities (c. 1984) from Indian Health Service: A Comprehensive Health Care Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives by United States. Indian Health Service.

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

Major Health Facilities for Indians and Alaska Natives from Indian Health Service: A Comprehensive Health Care Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives by United States. Indian Health Service.

Major Health Facilities for Indians and Alaska Natives from Indian Health Service: A Comprehensive Health Care Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.


Page 8 of Community Health Representative: A Changing Philosophy of Indian Involvement. The chapter title reads After the First Year... What has Happened?

Community Health Representative: A Changing Philosophy of Indian Involvement
Indian Health Service

Page 9 of Community Health Representative: A Changing Philosophy of Indian Involvement. Above the text of the page is an image of three women standing outside of a building. The woman on the right has her arm around a young child. The caption on the picture states: A CHR (Community Health Representative) functions as a liason between the health staff and community residents.

Community Health Representative: A Changing Philosophy of Indian Involvement
Indian Health Service

Brown colored title page of What Life Will We Make For Our Children pamphlet by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. In the center is an image of Sitting Bull (Tanka Yotanka) in a pamphlet directed at the Native American community, 1980. In the middle is an image of a small Native American child in native clothing.

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


A young female patient observes a medicine man on the right and helper, both sitting, preparing a sandpainting on the ground as part of her healing ceremony. Page 24 of The Navajo Area Indian Health Service Today, IHS, 1980.

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 NIAMS doctor is conducting an eye examination on a Pima woman on a reservation in Arizona, c. 1980s.

NIAMS doctor examines a Pima woman on a reservation in Arizona, c. 1980s



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