Family health

Indian Family Health Clinic receives $30,000 to promote COVID-19 vaccines

The Fort Belknap Tribes and Indian Family Health Clinic, an Indian Health Service facility in Great Falls, are among 12 Indigenous entities that have received a $30,000 grant to help fight COVID-19.

Register:for the Tribune newsletter on tribal news

IllumiNative, an organization that promotes Indigenous representation, provided the grants through its For the love of our people campaign, which aims to overcome vaccine hesitancy in indigenous communities that face high rates of infection. In partnership with the Urban Indian Health Institute, the first phase of the campaign included videos and social media posts, this next phase of the campaign is focused on distributing resources and empowering indigenous peoples and communities .

Indian Family Health Clinic Chief Innovation Officer Mary Lynne Billy talks about the clinic's schedule.

Due to US policies and long-term divestment, Native Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. A Ministry of Health and Social Services report found that from March to October 2020, Native Americans in Montana accounted for 19% of COVID-19 cases and 32% of COVID-19 deaths, despite making up 6.7% of the state’s population.

In Blaine County, which contains parts of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, 54% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. And in Cascade County, where the Indian Family Health Clinic is based, 50% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. In Montana, 55% of eligible people are vaccinated.

Chris Boy receives his COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Jessica Curtis at the Indian Family Health Clinic on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

As of Thursday, there were 25 active cases of COVID-19 on the Fort Belknap reservation, and the community has lost 12 people to the virus. The tribal community encourages people to call 406-353-3250 to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fort Belknap Tribal President Andrew Werk Jr. said the tribes were pleased to use the funding to provide “specific information to Aaniiih and Nakoda regarding vaccines.”

“The grant will be especially helpful as we prepare to vaccinate our children aged 5 to 11,” he said.

Crystal Echo Hawk, Founder and Executive Director of IllumiNative, said the organization used targeted research and studies to determine that “community engagement and asset-driven messaging is what will move the needle.” “.

Other grant recipients include: Protect the Sacred, Pawnee Nation, Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa, American Indian Child Resource Center, Native Peoples Action, Native American Community Development Institute, Sacred Pipe Resource Center, Wotakuye Mutual Aid Society, The Stronghold Cultural Response, Notah Begay Foundation and Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center.

Continued:Billings Clinic epidemiologist on fighting two battles: COVID-19 and misinformation

Montana reported 792 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the state’s active case count to 11,149. There have been 2,346 total deaths from COVID-19 and 162,352 recoveries. There are 433 active hospitalizations.

Cascade County added 59 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The county has 1,305 active cases and 235 total deaths from the virus.

On Friday, Yellowstone County reported 181 new cases of COVID-19. The county has 2,977 active cases and at least 402 deaths. An epidemiologist from the Billings Clinic on Thursday told the Tribune he and his staff must fight two pandemics: COVID-19 and misinformation. He encourages people to get vaccinated, which he says is safe and effective.

Missoula County added 108 cases, Flathead County added 62, and Lewis and Clark County added 60.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, visit

Nora Mabie covers Indigenous communities for the Great Falls Tribune. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Facebook @NoraMabieJournalist or on Twitter @NoraMabie.