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Timeline / Citizenship, Services, and Sovereignty / 1954: ‘Parran report’ finds Alaska Native health disparity

1954: ‘Parran report’ finds Alaska Native health disparity

Dr. Thomas Parran’s report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior, finds that Alaska Native peoples disproportionately suffer from disabling conditions and premature deaths. Conditions that the report calls common in the poorest countries in the world, including malnourishment, are present among Alaska Natives. The Parran report suggests that the U.S. should offer Alaska Natives the same services it provides to disaster victims around the world.

“... ‘Native Alaska’ ... and ‘White Alaska’ ... represent extremes in the health status of their citizens. White Alaska, with a relatively young, vigorous, generally urbanized population, shows a record of life-expectancy as favorable as that in the majority of the states. Its problems are those of every new and growing country ... In tragic contrast, the indigenous peoples of Native Alaska are the victims of sickness, crippling conditions and premature deaths to a degree exceeded in very few parts of the world. Among them, health problems are nearly out of hand. If other Americans could see for themselves the large numbers of the tuberculous, the crippled, the blind, the deaf, the malnourished, the desperately ill among a relatively small population, private generosity would dispatch shiploads of food and clothing for Alaska, alongside the cargoes setting out for Korea; doctors and nurses would be mobilized and equipped with the urgency of great hospital units in wartime; the Alaska missions would not need to beg for support.” —The Parran Report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior

Federal-Tribal Relations
Arctic, Northwest Coast, Subarctic

C. Earl Albrecht and the Parran Alaska Health Survey Team, 1953

Courtesy C. Earl Albrecht papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage