This year the National Indian Council on Aging is proud to celebrate 40 years of services to American Indian and Alaska Native Elders. We welcome you to join us at our upcoming 21st Biennial Conference on Aging in Indian Country, to be held in Niagara Falls, New York on September 13-15, 2016.
In 1976, NICOA was founded by the National Tribal Chairman’s Association, which coordinated the first conference on Indian Aging. It was held in Phoenix, Arizona and was given the theme “The Indian Elder, a Forgotten American.” Since the beginning, the conference has served as the leading forum on aging for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Elders to identify unmet needs and develop recommendations for improvement through advocacy.
NICOA is a nonprofit, service, and membership based organization governed by a 13-member board of directors which provide representation for 12 regions across the country and for the Title VI Grantees Association. Time is set aside during the conference for each region’s voting members to caucus and vote to elect new board members to replace those terming out. Resolutions on important aging topics are proposed and approved by the membership. Resolutions that are approved are forwarded to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for review and approval. This process is one way that NICOA impacts the aging policy agenda at the national level.
NICOA represents 566 federally recognized tribes with over 484,502 American Indian and Alaska Native Elders 55 and older. NICOA Biennial Conference attendees include 1,500 – 2,000 AI/AN Elders, stakeholders, and Aging Network providers.
Other priorities include direct communication between AI/AN Elders, policymakers and service providers. The conference provides an opportunity to understand national aging policies and receive information on helpful resources for AI/AN Elders. The Conference promotes awareness about aging services coordination and delivery of services across Indian Country. As Executive Director Randella Bluehouse often states, “The more we work together, the stronger we become.”
Important work is accomplished but there is also time for laughter and good fellowship. Many NICOA members are terrific storytellers and take the stage to share their humorous insights and observations with their friends. Another evening is usually devoted to enjoying the beautiful regalia and traditional dress of AI/ANs from across the country.
NICOA invites you to be a part of the 21st Biennial NICOA Conference experience. Please join us and check our website for further information. Donate and become a member today!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.