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Michell Hicks Discusses Public Health Issues With CDC

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Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, seized an opportunity to speak openly about public health issues affecting Native communities at the Tribal Advisry Committee (TAC) Meeting last week in Atlanta. As the Nashville Area regional representative, speaking on behalf on 26 federally recognized tribes, Hicks adressed tribal concerns surrounding Native specimens, behavioral risk factors, and disease-specific topics.

Hicks shared tribes' concerns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. A follow-up listening session with the CDC Director and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry administrator, as well as another roundtable discussion with CDC and Agency leadership will also be held.

From 2011 to 2012, the CDC began revising its existing Tribal Consultation Policy—first issued in 2005—with the primary purpose of providing guidance across the agency to work effectively with American Indian/Alaska Native tribes, communities and organizations to enhance access to CDC resources and programs. The CDC Consultation Policy states that CDC will conduct government-to-government consultation with elected tribal officials or their authorized representatives before taking actions and/or making decisions that affect them. 

Judith Monroe, CDC deputy director, office for state, tribal, local and territorial support, explained in a letter to Tribal leadership the importance of input at the TAC meeting:

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“Your input is very important to us as we work to improve Tribal access to CDC and ATSDR programs and services and strengthen partnerships with Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native community-based organizations. CDC and ATSDR remain committed to respecting Tribal sovereignty while working together to leverage capacity, expertise, and resources to achieve the greatest impact on the health issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

Check back with Indian Country Today Media Network for more information about Hicks' presentation on Native specimens, behavioral risk factors, and disease-specific topics.