The Indian Health Service (IHS) Bemidji Area has historically been the most underfunded of all the IHS areas. There are twelve of these areas across the United States, and the Bemidji Area covers Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), under the Affordable Care Act, awarded grants for “A Comprehensive Approach to Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country.” The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Epidemiology Center sought and received this funding under a new initiative called Bemidji Area Leaders Acting for Change (BALAC).

The initiative is nearing the end of its second year assisting American Indian communities in the 3-state area to address health disparities and policy, systems and environmental changes to reverse the trends of chronic disease.

BALAC funds the promotion of the Great Lakes Area Tribal Health Board that in turn helps to advance the work of Tribal Health Boards. Tribal Health Boards directly address health needs in Indian Country. The Great Lakes Area Tribal Health Board empowers the Health Boards and their respective communities through promoting culturally congruent approaches that focus on accessing and sustaining holistic health.

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