The National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. (NICOA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1976 by members of the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association who called for a national organization focused on the needs of aging American Indian and Alaska Native elders. The mission of NICOA is to advocate for improved comprehensive health, social services and economic wellbeing for American Indian and Alaska Native elders.
In addition to providing service through the Administration for Community Living within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NICOA operates as a national sponsor for the Senior Community Service Employment Program authorized under Title V of the Older Americans Act. As of 2006, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, NICOA has operated this program in seven states, serving more than 800 participants who receive employment training and experience.
NICOA is governed by a 13-member board of directors composed of American Indian and Alaska Native elders representing each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regions, as well as a representative of the National Association of Title VI Grantees. The regions are: Alaska, Eastern, Great Plains, Midwest, Navajo, Northwest, Eastern Oklahoma, Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Southern Plains, Southwest and Western.
NICOA’s voting members consist of American Indian or Alaska Native elders age 55 or older from federally recognized tribes. NICOA also has non-voting memberships for individuals who do not meet these requirements. Non-voting associate members include American Indians or Alaska Natives under the age of 55 and non-Indians of all ages. Elders are encouraged to join to have their voices heard.
Voting members actively participate in caucus sessions representing each of the 12 NICOA regions, participate in the election of board members, submit aging specific resolutions, revise bylaws and develop a collective aging policy agenda for NICOA to advocate in Washington, D.C. Members submit resolutions which are presented and voted on by all members attending our biennial conference. Resolutions that are approved are passed on to the National Congress of American Indians for presentation to the appropriate federal government agencies.
NICOA’s biennial conference is the place where elders can educate and recommend solutions to policymakers to help improve aging services across Indian Country. Our biennial conferences benefit our 300,000 elders as well as the entire American Indian and Alaska Native population from all 574 tribes. The conference consists of educational presentations from tribal, state and federal organizations as well as a diverse network of aging service partners who provide information and updates on aging services, health care, civic engagement and economic development in Indian Country.
For over 40 years, NICOA has served as the nation’s foremost advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native elders. Our organization provides testimony before federal, state and tribal policymakers on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native elders.
NICOA’s objectives are to (1) enhance communications and cooperation with community service providers and other aging organizations that represent and advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native elders, (2) disseminate information and technical assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve health care for elders, (3) intercede with appropriate agencies to maximize resources and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery systems for elders, (4) provide information, reports and expert testimony requested by Tribal Nations and the U.S. Congress, and (5) serve as a national clearinghouse for issues affecting American Indian and Alaska Native elders.