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Tribes and the Recovery Act

The Cheyenne River Health Center

The Cheyenne River Health Center, a major Recovery Act project dedicated this summer, is set to open to patients in December.

Photo courtesy of the Indian Health Service.

New Cheyenne River Health Center at Eagle Butte

More than 9,000 American Indians in South Dakota will soon be able to get health care services at a new, state-of-the art Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital at Eagle Butte.

The Cheyenne River Health Center is expected to open to patients in December. The hospital, built with $84.5 million from the Recovery Act, is one of many projects in Indian Country that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has funded under the Recovery Act.

The 138,542-square-foot facility will provide health care services for 9,300 American Indians residing in the South Dakota counties of Dewey, Haakon, Meade, Potter, Sully, and Ziebach. The Cheyenne River Health Center replaces the former Eagle Butte IHS Hospital, which, at approximately one-third the size of the new facility, was not able to meet the needs of the community. New staff quarters for health care providers in this remote area also are being built as part of the Recovery Act project.

“Thanks to funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this beautiful and much-needed health center is now completed,” IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux said at the Aug. 26 dedication ceremony. “With greatly expanded space, services, and staffing, this new health center will contribute to better health and wellness for the Cheyenne River Sioux community.”

The Recovery Act empowered HHS to help jump-start the economy, maintain health care services, expand access to affordable health care, protect those in greatest need and provide for the early care and education of young children and create or save jobs. As part of its Recovery Act mandate, HHS provided more than $700 million for programs to specifically assist Tribal communities.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius established the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) to advise the Department on its government-to-government relationship and delivery of services to Tribal communities. At the STAC’s first meeting late last year in Washington, D.C., the Tribal representatives heard about Recovery Act programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). As presented to the STAC and updated since then, the following are highlights of HHS Recovery Act funding benefiting AI/AN people:*

Indian Health Service Construction

The Recovery Act provided $500 million through the IHS for the construction of priority health care facilities, building maintenance and improvement, water and wastewater sanitation projects, the purchase of critical medical equipment and health information technology (IT). IHS also administers another $90 million in Recovery Act funds from the Environmental Protection Agency for sanitation projects. Recovery Act funding supports two major hospital construction projects and more than 1,200 other projects, allowing IHS to make deep inroads in the backlog of essential maintenance and repairs of health and sanitation facilities. For example:

  • $227 million funds the replacement of two hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities: the Cheyenne River Sioux’s Eagle Butte health center and the Norton Sound Regional Hospital (Nome, Alaska). The new Nome hospital will serve 10,000 Alaska Natives spread out over 44,000 square miles. 
  • As a result of Recovery Act funds, 30,000 AI/AN homes will have safe drinking water and adequate waste disposal facilities.

Health Information Technology

HHS is working to improve the quality of health care and increase efficiency through the expansion and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs).

  • IHS administers $85 million to extend and update health IT at more than 400 IHS and Tribal facilities so they can comply with Federal standards and receive Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments. The Cherokee Nation was the first Tribe this year to receive a Medicaid incentive payment.
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded $16.5 million to the National Indian Health Board to create a Regional Extension Center to assist 3,000 primary care providers in qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments. These providers serve AI/AN people at 594 health care facilities.

Communities Putting Prevention to Work

Three Tribes were among 44 communities that received Recovery Act funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s signature prevention program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work:

  • The Cherokee Nation Health Service Group (Oklahoma) received $2.1 million to fight obesity and commercial tobacco use with farm-to-school programs, physical education and commercial tobacco cessation programs.
  • The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (Wisconsin) received $1 million to bring commercial tobacco prevention and control activities to five Tribes.
  • The Pueblo of Jemez Health and Human Services Department (New Mexico) received $900,000 to promote increased physical activity, encourage healthy food choices and support the local growers market.

Other HHS Programs

  • $50 million for the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Tribal Head Start programs, of which $34.7 million was for expansion of Early Head Start for 23 Tribal grantees to serve 1,286 children over two years, including:
    • $2.7 million for the Gila River Indian Community to expand Early Head Start and provide services for 92 additional children.
    • $2.6 million to the Tanana Chiefs Conference to provide services for an additional 140 children.
  • $40 million in ACF Child Care and Development Fund (CDDF) assistance to 259 Tribes and Tribal organizations to expand access to safe and quality child care and improve services. For example:
    • The Suquamish Tribe (Washington) used some of its $42,000 CCDF Recovery Act assistance to fund training for child care providers pursuing a Child Development Associate credential.
    • The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation (Arizona) used part of its $90,000 CCDF award to complete the new H’mam Shawa Early Childhood Development Center.
    • The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s (South Dakota) $38,000 award allowed for the Tribe to eliminate parent co-payments for families at or below the federal poverty line.
  • $19.6 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration for 25 Tribal and Urban Indian Health Centers to create new access sites, meet increased demand for services and fund construction. For example:
    • The Seldovia Village Tribe (Alaska) received $2.7 million for construction of health center facilities and increased demand for services.
    • Bristol Bay Area Health (Alaska) and the Native American Community Health Center (Arizona) each received $1.3 million for health services at new sites.
  • $14.1 million in Recovery Act funds under the ACF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program went to 22 Tribes to help members hit hard by the economic recession. More than $3.5 million in TANF funds went to subsidized employment programs at eight Tribes, including $817,000 for the Spokane Tribe of Indians and $661,000 for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
  • $6.7 million in ACF Community Services Block Grant funds went to 47 Tribes to help low-income people become self-sufficient
  • $3 million from the Administration on Aging was awarded to 244 Tribal organizations for meals and nutrition services for their elderly members.

For more information about the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Council, go to

 For more information about HHS Recovery Act programs, go to

*This article is an updated version of one that was posted earlier on the website at