by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee
One of the best kept secrets in American health administration is the existence of Indian Health Service.
Unbeknownst to many outside the Native community, our healthcare is actually delivered by the military.
Oh sure, they call themselves the “Public Health Service Commissioned Corps” which is just a nice way of saying they don’t carry guns, but you can bet that you will more than likely receive care from someone dressed in full-out camouflage gear who indeed works for the U.S. Uniformed Services.
How did this all get started? Well for lands seized (read: stolen) the government has a federal responsibility to provide healthcare to Native Americans. After assimilating us and annihilating our culture, the War Department had this duty in 1849. Which was then overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs who was responsible for the many abuses and mistreatments that occurred under their umbrella until 1955, when the government thought it would then be a good idea to turn it over to the Department of Health and Human Services.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not really comfortable going to see a doctor wearing army boots in a non-war torn country. Last time I checked, they haven’t exactly been our best friends in the Native community (forcible removal to attend Residential Schools, reproductive trauma from military testing anyone?) I’m also less than pleased being the only race whose healthcare comes like this. Continue reading