Chairman slams Indian Health Services hiring decision

July 12, 2022 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe on Tuesday slammed the federal agency that delivers health care to approximately 130,000 Native Americans located in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa for declining to hire tribal leaders’ choice for an area director.

Chairman Harold Frazier released a letter to President Joe Biden criticizing the decision for Indian Health Services to re-advertise the Great Plains area director position after tribal leaders had interviewed and recommended a candidate. Frazier’s criticism comes as tribal health advocates have pushed for stability in an agency that’s chronically underfunded and struggles to meet the needs of Indian Country.

“Your decision to readvertise this position and not appoint our agreed upon choice has removed our hopes and voices from the nation-to-nation and returned us to the “boss farmer” days of doing what we are told on reservations,” Frazier wrote in a fiery letter.

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The acting Great Plains area director, Elizabeth Fowler, had written to tribal leaders explaining she had not selected the preferred candidate because it is important “to ensure new leadership is well-positioned to help make sustainable improvements” to the agency’s programs.

Indian Health Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Frazier’s letter.