View this email in your browser

January Issue


  Follow NICOA


Join NICOA in Welcoming Larry Curley

The National Indian Council on Aging would like to welcome our new executive director, Larry Curley. Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation with over 40 years of experience working in the aging and healthcare fields. He has worked with Congress, other branches of the federal government, and national organizations on aging to develop support for programs affecting elderly American Indians.

After receiving his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Arizona, along with a certificate in gerontology, Curley worked as a gerontological planner at an Area Agency on Aging in Pima County, Arizona, where he was instrumental in establishing a county public fiduciary program. As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., he successfully advocated for the passage of Title VI of the Older Americans Act, an amendment which he wrote.

He directed the Navajo Nation’s Head Start program, one of the five largest Head Start programs in the country. Curley has served as a nursing home administrator of a tribal, long-term care facility, as a hospital administrator in northern Nevada, and as a college instructor at the University of Nevada-Reno and Eastern Washington University.
He was named as the assistant dean of the Four Corners region for the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. He’s also served as the public representative on the American College of Physicians Clinical Guidelines Committee, and as the director of program development for the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services in northwest New Mexico.

Thoughts from the Executive DirectorT

It is 2019; a new year, a new beginning and a chance to shape and guide the direction this nation takes in the coming year! 2018 is rapidly becoming a fading memory as we scan the horizon for upcoming events, issues, and other topics not foreseen.

As the new executive director of NICOA, it feels inevitable that my footsteps should bring me back here. For those who don’t know, I was here at the beginning, during the birth of NICOA. I witnessed its growth, its achievements, and saw it take its rightful place among the many organizations — Indian and non-Indian — in advocating for the well-being of our elders and indirectly, our tribal communities.

We believe that our elders are the foundation upon which we, as Indian people and tribes, owe our existence. They taught us our language, culture, traditions, and our relationship with our creator. They fought for an idea called “tribal sovereignty”; some went to prison for this concept, some saw their lives come to a sudden end. This is what our elders represent. 

Tribal leaders are elected by their communities and among these communities are elders, a population that one can count on to participate in tribal government issues and elections. The elders are one cohort that they rely on for support.

NICOA also believes that we have two high priority constituents: the elderly and tribal leaders. Without one, we are only half as effective. In this new year, NICOA will remain just as faithful to its origins as ever. We look to our constituency to help us in forming “Our Wall”; a wall to protect and strengthen our right to determine our own future.

Your continued support, financially and spiritually, is important and validates the words that some utter in a buttery fashion: “Our elders are our historical encyclopedias.”

NICOA looks forward to working with you and your communities in the coming years. Here’s to a great and productive year ahead!

Larry Curley
Executive Director

Senior Community Service
Employment Program

A Message from SCSEP

Presents have been opened, New Year’s cheers and resolutions have been made, and families have returned to their own homes (in most cases!). It’s back to work as usual at NICOA’s SCSEP! 

My name is Sue Chapman and I am the national director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). I have been employed in the workforce arena for just shy of 30 years. In the four years I’ve been with NICOA, I have worked to assist seniors 55 and older in acquiring the skills necessary to compete in today’s job market.

In my experience, most seniors don’t believe employers want to hire them. In Indian Country, it’s especially difficult as jobs are scarce. However, mature workers are in high demand in an age when employers are looking to get the best deal for their money.

My staff of eight works hard to assist participants in obtaining new job skills — or refreshing old ones — by training them at a nonprofit host agency while NICOA pays the participants’ wage. Our staff then works with participants and employers to assist in finding unsubsidized employment.

NICOA’s SCSEP also provides job clubs, work readiness bootcamps, case management, and skill training at select host agencies. SCSEP partners with agencies within the communities NICOA serves to provide participants with resources like food, clothing, transportation, computer classes, etc.

SCSEP assists our elders in staying active and gives them a feeling of self-worth. Last year, NICOA’s SCSEP served 408 participants in Arizona, California, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

NICOA extends to Indian Country, a rural area where others won’t go. Sadly, the Trump administration is working to eliminate this program. This would be a huge loss to Indian Country and negatively impact the lives of our elders.

SCSEP is a national program funded through the U.S. Department of Labor that provides services in every state of the country. For more information on NICOAs SCSEP, visit our website. If you reside in a state NICOA does not serve, email me or call 505-292-2001 to be directed to a provider in your area. If you’re interested in participating in NICOAs SCSEP, visit our website and fill out the pre-application form

Look for SCSEP success stories in future NICOA newsletters. 

Sue Chapman
SCSEP Director

SCSEP Oklahoma Receives Award

For the fourth year in a row, NICOA’s Oklahoma SCSEP team received an award from the Department of Veteran Affairs in recognition of their work with veterans. Program Director Sue Chapman, Program Manager Arnetta Yancey and staff recently attended the Department’s annual Community Partnership Awards and were presented with a plaque and certification for service provided to veterans through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

SCSEP staff continues to work closely with the Department to ensure veterans can get back into the workforce. Congratulations, Central Region SCSEP team!

Elder Equity

Happy New Year!

Thank you for your commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native elders, and for your continuing support of NICOA.

In the final months of 2018, the Elder Equity project presented trainings at our conference in Temecula, California, as well as the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Elder Equity trainings include useful financial education tools that anyone can use. Information is developed in partnership with financial experts and Native peoples to ensure it meets the needs of elders.

If you think your community would benefit from a training on financial topics such as credit scores, cash flow budgets, identity theft prevention and fraud awareness, please email me or call 505-292-2001.

Rebecca Owl Morgan
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Elder Equity Project Coordinator

Financial Inclusion

The Elder Equity team has been making connections, sharing information and gathering resources to better serve you. One thing we’re learning about is financial inclusion.

Financial inclusion is about helping people living with disabilities participate in their financial decisions. Often people living with disabilities are afraid to save money because they're worried about losing their benefits.

Now, with Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts people can save and invest without losing their eligibility for public benefit programs, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

Contact NICOA to learn more.
Membership Information
Do you care about helping to improve aging services for American Indian and Alaska Native elders? Then please join NICOA! We need you as an advocate. NICOA is the premier organization calling attention to the needs of elders.

Your involvement and support can bring attention, education, and improved services to elders across the country. Every elder should have the freedom to age in place and access services and resources in every community across Indian Country as well as urban areas.

If you're interested in learning more, email NICOA or call (505) 292-2001.
Elder Wellness

Diabetes Still Highest Among AI/AN

American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest diabetes prevalence rates of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict that one in two American Indian/Alaska Native children born in 2000 will have type 2 diabetes in their lifetime unless the current trend is halted.
More than 16 percent have been diagnosed, compared to 8.7 percent of non-Hispanic whites. One in six American Indian and Alaska Native adults have been diagnosed with diabetes — more than double the prevalence rate for the general U.S. population.
According to the CDC and Indian Health Service (IHS), in some American Indian and Alaska Native communities, diabetes prevalence among adults is as high as 60 percent. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest rates of diabetes in the world, with more than half diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. IHS data also shows that American Indians and Alaska Natives have a higher incidence of long-term complications from diabetes and that they develop it earlier in life.
Read the full article here.

24 Percent of People Age 60 and Older Don't Get Flu Shot

As of November, only 43 percent of adults reported that they had gotten a flu vaccination, according to a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago. Another 14 percent had not yet been vaccinated but intended to get a vaccination this season. However, 41 percent of adults report they have not been vaccinated and do not intend to do so.
People over age 60, who are at higher risk for flu-related complications, report the highest vaccination rate (62 percent). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that between about 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occurred in people 65 years and older during the previous flu seasons. Between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occurred in that age group as well.
Despite this, one in four (24 percent) people age 60 and older still do not plan to get vaccinated this season. In fact, data from the CDC shows that vaccination rates of older adults have remained mostly stagnant over the past five years. 
Read the full article here

Know Your Family's Medical History

A compilation of your family’s health history can be a powerful tool for you and your healthcare provider to use to predict any illnesses you may be predisposed to, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, asthma, or certain cancers (like breast, ovarian, and colorectal).

A useful way to track your family’s health history online is with the Surgeon General's Family Health Portrait web tool. If you prefer to gather and record your history by hand, a PDF version of the tool is also available in English and Spanish.
If your family history indicates an unusually high risk of disease, your doctor may suggest genetic testing. By sharing your genetic background with your doctor, you can get advice on preventative measures to decrease the risk of a disease, like more frequent screenings, changes in diet, increased activity, or weight loss. They may even be able to detect a problem in its early stage when therapy would be effective.

Read the full article here.

Elder Abuse Often Goes Unreported

Unfortunately, the abuse and neglect of American Indian and Alaska Native elders occurs with alarming frequency in tribal communities. Tribal leaders face three major challenges in addressing elder abuse and neglect issues on reservations. There is a need to increase training about elder abuse and neglect, a lack of codes addressing elder abuse issues and a lack of policies and procedures for tribal agencies handling elder abuse and neglect issues.
More than 79 percent of elder abuse cases go unreported. Many tribes don't have their own specialized elder protective service so there may not be anyone to report abuse to, or insufficient resources for a response even if a report was made. 

Call the 911 immediately if you or someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger. If the danger is not immediate, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency for help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Read the full article here.
Social Services

New Resource on Aging and Long-Term Services

The LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts in Boston conducts research designed to address challenges and seize the opportunities associated with a growing older population. Their primary mission is to translate research into policy and practice.
The Center’s studies serve as a foundation for government policies and provider action to improve the quality of care for older Americans. The Center is the first to blend the resources of a major research university with the expertise of applied researchers working with providers in the field of long-term services.

Tribal Nursing Homes

The Tribal Nursing Home Directory lists the contact information for each tribally operated nursing home facility. The information includes the tribal affiliation, facility name, address, facility contacts, and certification. The Nursing Home Facility Inventory covers tribally operated nursing home facilities, including a look at facility ratings on the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website.

Food Distribution

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides nutrition assistance to tribal communities through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), a federal program that provides USDA foods to low-income households, including the elderly, those living on Indian reservations, and Native families living in designated areas near reservations and in Oklahoma.
Each month, participating households receive a food package to help them maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. Currently, there are approximately 276 tribes receiving benefits under FDPIR through 102 Indian organizations and three state agencies. USDA Foods provides fact sheets about storage, preparation tips, nutrition information and recipes.
Economic Security

Tax Season Resources for Elders

Tax Counseling for the Elderly offers free tax help to taxpayers 60 years and older now through April 15 each year. IRS-certified volunteers specialize in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to elders. 
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers free tax help to people making $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, older adults, and taxpayers with limited English who need assistance. These IRS-certified volunteers can provide information about tax credits and prepare a basic tax return with electronic filing.

Read the full article here.

Scam Calls Predicted to Worsen

Fraudulent calls are quickly becoming more frequent. This year nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be a scam, according to a new report from telecommunications firm First Orion. The company analyzed data from more than 50 billion calls over 18 months to get an idea of what they’re calling the “scam-call epidemic”.
Mobile-originated scams are up over 400 percent from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, only 3.7 percent of calls to cell phones were fraudulent. In 2018 that number reached 29.2 percent and is expected to climb to 44.6 percent this year.

To avoid becoming a victim, familiarize yourself with these common scams, such as calls from people claiming to work for the IRS or your credit card company. If you spot any scams, report them to the FTC.

Read the full article here
Tribal News

Upcoming Events & Observances

February 11: 2019 State of Indian Nations
February 15: National Caregivers’ Day
February 22: Senior Day at the New Mexico Capitol
March 8: International Women’s Day
March 20: National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
April 15-18: Aging in America Conference
April 26-28: Gathering of Nations (Pow Wow)

Indian Health Board Seeks Proposals

The National Indian Health Board is seeking proposals to present at their upcoming tribal health events. The 10th annual National Tribal Public Health Summit will be held from May 13-15 at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, along with the American Indian and Alaska Native National Behavioral Health Conference from May 15-17. Proposals are due Monday, February 11 by noon EST.

Read the full article here.

Report Reveals Funding Failure

A report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that Congress has done little in the past 15 years to fulfill its obligations to Native populations. The December report, titled “Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans,” shows that federal spending for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians has remained flat since the commission’s 2003 report.
Read the full article here.

Native Farm Bill Passes

The passing of the 2018 farm bill should lead to provisions that benefit tribal nations across the country. The bill includes about 63 provisions for tribal governments, focused on food production, food security and infrastructure. It includes opportunities for tribal colleges to access agriculture research funds, and tribal governments to join with states on international trade delegations.
Read the full article here.

Indian Child Welfare Act 'Unconstitutional'

In October, a federal judge declared a 40-year-old law aimed at preventing the removal of American Indian children from their families unconstitutional. In the case of Brackeen v. Zinke, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor decided that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was a race-based law lacking a present-day articulation of its need.

The Cherokee Nation and three other tribal defendants will appeal the judge’s decision to the Fifth Circuit. If the Fifth Circuit upholds the judge’s decision, the fate of ICWA could wind up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Inadequate Data on Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

There is a serious lack of meaningful government data documenting rates of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. A recent study by the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) revealed that only 116 of the 5,712 cases of murdered or missing Native women were logged into the Department of Justice’s nationwide database.
Read the full article here

Voting Rights in North Dakota

A North Dakota law requiring prospective voters to provide a street address was upheld by a Supreme Court ruling in October 2018. North Dakota is one of many primarily Republican-controlled states to take advantage of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling eliminating key protections of the Voting Rights Act to make registration and voting more difficult, especially for the poor and people of color, both of whom typically vote Democrat.
Sadly, thousands of rural American Indians, on or off North Dakota's reservations, lack street addresses because their streets have no names and their homes have no numbers. Instead, they rely on P.O. boxes.
Thanks to a massive local effort to defend their right to vote, North Dakota’s American Indians showed up in record numbers in the 2018 midterm election.

American Indians and Alaska Natives Elected

Several American Indian candidates won important races last year, two of which are headed to Congress: Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) of New Mexico and Sharice Davids (Ho Chunk) of Kansas. Additionally, Tom Cole (Chickasaw) and Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee), both of Oklahoma, won re-election to Congress. Kevin Stitt (Cherokee) was elected governor of Oklahoma, and Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Ojibwe) was elected as lieutenant governor of Minnesota.
A total of 48 Native candidates won election to state legislative offices. According to a count by Indian Country Today, 103 Native candidates ran for office in the midterms. At least 60 won, mostly Democrats — though Oklahomans elected a Republican (Stitt) to be the country's first American Indian governor.
The Latino Decisions Election Eve survey analyzed American Indian voting trends and found that 61 percent reported voting for a Democratic candidate for Congress. Sixty-seven percent of American Indian women reported that they voted for Democrats compared to 54 percent of American Indian men.
Treaty Rights News

Mashpee Wampanoag Lawsuit

Earlier this month Democratic representatives refiled a bill to allow a federal agency to take land into trust on behalf of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts. Last year, the Interior Department ruled that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was not under federal jurisdiction during the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act of Congress, effectively denying the tribe land it sought in Taunton, Massachusetts. The ruling reversed an Obama-era decision that secured 321 acres of tribal land in Mashpee and Taunton into trust.
According to the Department’s legal arguments, if the Mashpee Wampanoag are not Indian enough to have trust land, 128 of the 573 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. could lose their reservations as well.
The Mashpee Wampanoag have occupied the same region for over 12,000 years and have faced diminishing homelands since colonization. Today, the lands represent less than one half of 1 percent of their original territories. If the lawsuit is not successful, the ruling would mark the first time American Indian land has been taken out of trust since the termination era of the 1940s-1960s when the U.S. government intentionally attempted to assimilate American Indians.
The tribe had plans to build a $1 billion casino on the land in Taunton and use the land in the town of Mashpee for their government. If the suit should fail, the tribe says they will have to shutter language immersion schools, slash programs and lay off employees.

Tribal Hunting Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court heard the initial arguments of Crow tribal member Clayvin Herrera, who is fighting the state of Wyoming over hunting treaty rights. In 2014, Herrera poached an elk in Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest and was later convicted of illegal hunting.

Herrera argues that the Laramie Treaty of 1868 says tribal members have the right to hunt on the land. Wyoming disagrees, arguing that those treaty rights ended when Wyoming became a state.

The case could set a precedent for tribal hunting rights. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Oil Pipeline Approved

After spending the last year pursuing a plan to tunnel an oil pipeline beneath Michigan's Straits of Mackinac, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law in December. Multiple tribal leaders say this ignores the 182-year-old treaty rights of American Indians.
The five tribes of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority are unified in calling for the Line 5 oil pipeline to be shut down. They retained fishing rights in the area under a treaty in 1836, while Line 5 was built by the oil pipeline company Enbridge in 1953. 

In September 2016, NICOA passed a resolution is support of shutting down Line 5 and stopping the transportation of oil under the Great Lakes.
Additionally, a report from the Science Advisory Board suggests the Straits of Mackinac are among more than a dozen locations in the Great Lakes region that are vulnerable to oil spills. 

Oklahoma's Tribal Jurisdiction

The outcome of Murphy v. Carpenter will affect the treaty territory of five tribes and nearly half the land in Oklahoma. The Supreme Court must decide whether the 1866 territorial boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation constitute an “Indian reservation” today.
If the Supreme Court upholds the decision and rules in favor of Creek Nation, the land could be acknowledged as Cherokee land for the first time in more than 100 years. The ruling would result in the largest restoration of tribal jurisdiction over American Indian land in U.S. history. The court is likely to resolve the case before the end of the term in June.

In Memoriam:
Gary Evans (Zone-Cui) Kodaseet

Gary Evans (Zone-Cui) Kodaseet, of Anadarko, Oklahoma, passed away on November 28, 2018 in Oklahoma City with his family by his side. Gary was an interim director at the National Indian Council on Aging in the 1980s, and an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. 
He was born on February 5, 1936 at the Kiowa Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma. After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corp, he spent 11 years in the defense industry and five years with the U.S. Postal Service.
After graduating from the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, he began a long career serving American Indians. In 1978 he accepted a position with the federal government as a specialist for the Administration for Native Americans in Dallas. 
Gary's work ethic and determination did not go unnoticed. He received the Outstanding Service Award for Region VI, the Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary's Award for Leadership, and the Health and Human Services Secretary's Award of Excellence. He was also awarded numerous tokens of appreciation from the tribes he served in Region VI.
Read Gary Kodaseet's full obituary here.

Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken (or Turkey) Casserole

Recipes from

"Melt butter in large skillet. Sauté mushrooms and vegetables until tender. Stir in seasonings, sour cream and soup until combined. Put wild rice and chicken (or turkey) in a greased 3 qt. casserole dish or 9 by 13 pan. Pour vegetable/sour cream mixture over the top of rice and mix until combined. Bake, covered, in 350 degree oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes."

Harvest Naboob Soup

3 qts. chicken stock
2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet potato, diced into 1" cubes
6 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup almond milk mixed with 1 tbsp. of flour (optional)

"Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in 6 qt. stock pot. Add onion, celery, poultry seasoning, ginger and garlic. Cover and lightly sweat. Add chicken breasts whole and sauté all until fragrant, about five minutes. Add chicken stock, bay leaves, sweet potato and simmer for two hours covered. Remove chicken breasts, shred with two forks and add back to pot. Add frozen corn and wild rice. bring back to low boil, heat through.

Check potato chunks. When they are fork tender, soup is done. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of almond milk with 1 tbsp. of flour whisked in for a light, creamy flavor, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves before serving."

Do you have any healthy, traditional recipes to share, or any stories or tribal news to contribute? Send them to NICOA and they may be featured in our next newsletter.
NICOA needs your financial support, as the advocacy and political work we do for our elders is not free. Grants that have helped fund NICOA are now under threat in Washington, D.C. Help us continue to serve our elders by donating at
We would like to hear from elders, service providers, and tribal programs serving American Indian or Alaska Native elders. You can email NICOA or send information by mail to National Indian Council on Aging, 8500 Menaul Blvd. NE Suite B-470, Albuquerque, NM 87112. We ask that you please share this newsletter with anyone with a limited or nonexistent internet signal.

Was this newsletter forwarded to you?

Click here to become a subscriber.

Big changes are coming to NICOA. Watch for our next newsletter on April 29.
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.