Healthcare for Native American Indians in Tennessee

• Received an email message on Monday, September 8, 2008 at 12:30 (name & nation have been changed):
> Tom,
> I'm an Osage Indian and I'm looking for health insurance or benefits for indians in Tennessee.
> Can you provide me with a list of doctors or hospitals in Tennessee
> where I can get medical care when necessary? Dental and health.
> I live close to Nashville, TN.
> Thanks for your help.

• Received a phone call on tuesday, 14 july 2009 around 8.30 in the morning from Rob, Eyak out of Alaska,
living around Athens, asking about Indian health care and Urban Health programs in Tennessee.

• Received a phone call on wednesday, 23 november 2011 around 10.20am from 'Tracy' whose 'friend'/'husband' is half Cherokee, but adopted out & raised away from whatever Cherokee tribe he's a member of. He has diabetes & other health issues, is wondering how tribal health insurance covers it.

John, Rob & Tracy - Good questions. Here are the best answers i can give you.
         i hope you find at least one of them useful.
  1. Healthcare is a big concern to everybody, but there are no special healthcare benefits, doctors, hospitals, IHS services or group health insurance for Native American Indians in Tennessee.
    Tribes and the federal Indian Health Service (IHS) are responsible for providing health care to specific Native American Indian tribes as promised in the treaties between the USA and tribes. But there are no federally-recognized tribes in Tennessee, no state-recognized tribes, and no contracts between the state and any tribe/s for health services.

  2. There are no special healthcare programs for indians, and no Urban Indian Health Programs or Clinics in Tennessee or in any neighboring state since there are no large urban populations of indians in The South.

  3. The best sources of healthcare financial coverage are employers and Tennessee's Medicaid managed care program, TennCare.

  4. The IHS - the federally-funded Indian Health Service for members of federally-recognized tribes and their dependents ( - has its Southeast USA administrative offices in Nashville, but IHS does not have a clinic in Tennessee and does not provide any individual healthcare services.
    Nashville Area Indian Health Service
    711 Stewarts Ferry Pike
    Nashville TN 37214-2634.
    Office Hours: 7am - 5pm
    Phone: (615) 467-1500
  5. The closest IHS facility that tribal members and tribal-members' dependents have access to that i know of is in Cherokee, North Carolina:
    IHS Cherokee Indian Hospital
    Hospital Road
    Cherokee NC 28719
    Phone: (828) 497-9163
    Fax: (828) 497-5343
    Eastern Band of Cherokee's Health and Medical Division
    "Cherokee Indian Hospital is a family practice based hospital and clinic located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in western North Carolina.
    It serves approximately 14,000 Native Americans across a five county area through a variety of programs funded and operated through both the Indian Health Service and the Tribal Health Delivery System."

    To obtain IHS healthcare services, a person must show his/her own or a parent's tribal citizenship status/identification in a USA-federally-recognized tribe.

  6. If you want to check this information with the regional Bureau of Indian Affairs office, please contact them at:
    Bureau of Indian Affairs - Eastern Agency
    711 Stewart Ferry Pike, Nashville TN 37214
    615/564-6700, 615/467-1700
    Agency offices: Cherokee NC (Cherokee),
    Philadelphia MS (Choctaw), Hollywood FL (Seminole)
  7. If you are a member of the Osage Nation or Alaska Native, your tribe should have a benefits office and its staff should be able to provide you with information about healthcare benefits to members living outside their area (presumably none), or using IHS facilities in other areas.
    I suggest you contact them and ask if they provide any healthcare coverage to citizens/constituents living outside of their area:
    Alaska Native Health Board

  8. I don't know of any other Osage tribal members in Tennessee, but please consider contacting the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee in Nashville ( to see if they know of anybody who has more direct and personal information about local healthcare for Native American Indians.
    Native American Indian Association of Tennessee, Inc.
    230 Spence Lane, Nashville TN 37210-3623
    615. 232.9179 | |
  9. There have been public monies available in the past to address health disparities in minority populations. such disparities, such as higher cancer rates, higher diabetes rates, higher alcoholism, have to be indicated by analyzing population statistics. until such studies are done and can demonstrate the existence of a problem special to one group, there won't be any public monies for the issue.

    There is currently a statistical study, requested by the state Commission of Indian Affairs and performed by Letha Orrick, to determine if there are significant differences/disparities between indian and non-indian health, healthcare and healthcare payment in Tennessee.
    Information on those results will be provided when published publicly.
    For more information, contact the Commission's chairperson, Val Ohle.

  10. In sum, there is no special healthcare, or any special entitlement to healthcare, for Native American Indians living in the state of Tennessee, regardless of tribal citizenship status.
    Healthcare costs money. healthcare is available to anyone who has money, and to groups of people who have money who want to extend their coverage to family members.
    Individuals, families and groups can buy into existing healthcare programs like BlueCross BlueShield:

  11. If i can be of any further help to you, please write me back.
    Good luck! And please let me know what you find out so i can relate it to others in the future.



    American Indian/Alaska Native Fact Sheet for the State of Tennessee
    (caveat: not all the information contained in the "fact sheet" is correct, eg, there is no "VERY LARGE URBAN INDIAN POPULATION" in the state, and there are no "TRIBES THAT ARE PETITIONING FOR RECOGNITION.")
    Indian Health Service Urban Indian Health Programs (UIHP) and Clinics FY 2001
    Urban Indian Health Programs around the USA
    Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Tulsa
    South Dakota, Pierre
    Nebraska, Lincoln
    Kansas, Wichita
    Minnesota, Minneapolis
    Michigan, Detroit
    Wisconsin, Green Bay, Milwaukee
    Illinois, Chicago
    New York, New York
    Maryland, Baltimore
    Massachusetts, Boston
    Hawaii, Honolulu
    Washington, Seattle, Spokane
    Oregon, Portland
    Nevada, Reno
    Utah, Salt Lake City
    Montana, Helena, Great Falls, Missoula
    New Mexico, Albuquerque
    Arizona, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson
    Colorado, Denver
    Montana, Billings, Butte
    Texas, Dallas, Euless
    California, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Manteca, Santa Barbara,
             San Jose, Sacramento, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Oakland

    tom kunesh {}
    hitchhiker's guide to the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs 423. 781.0197

    this is a personal opinion of the writer only.
    if any of this information is incorrect, or
    can be improved with better facts or more recent data,
    please let me know.

created: 12sep08 / last updated: 22nov11