Native Youth Highlighted at the 2018 National Tribal Health Conference 

The 35th Annual National Indian Health Board (NIHB) National Tribal Health Conference took place September 17th-20th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In addition to being the largest gathering focused solely on American Indian and Alaska Native health policy, this year’s conference featured presentations by elected and government leaders, a gala dedicated to heroes in Indian health, and several session that spotlighted the achievements of youth.  

NIHB Health Policy Fellow, Betsy Waller, meeting with her Chickasaw Nation Tribal Council leaders. From left to right: Toby Perkins, Nancy Elliott, Linda Briggs, Betsy Waller, Connie Barker, Shana Tate Hammond, and Lisa Billy

Native Youth Making a Difference   

As a part of NIHB’s commitment to growing the next generation of Indian health policy advocates, a new conference track called “Native Youth: Making a Difference” was offered. Rather than focusing on negative messages about young people, this distinctive track celebrated youth presenters and their allies who are stepping up to take on important health challenges.

NIHB Health Policy Fellows Take Center Stage  

Attendees celebrated the work of accomplished youth presenters- Maka Monture (Tlingit, Kanien’kehá:ka) and Tamee Livermont (Oglala Sioux Tribe)- both NIHB Health Policy Fellowship alumni. Ms. Monture and Ms. Livermont led a 90-minute workshop, alongside current NIHB Health Policy Fellow, Betsy Waller (Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation), about their Fellowship project journeys working with Tribal leadership to identify a pressing health issue, analyze this issue, and create recommendations for change. Now both Ms. Monture and Ms. Livermont are taking steps to advocate for their policy recommendations, while Ms. Waller is beginning to reach out to her Tribal leadership to define the scope of her Fellowship project.

Tamee Livermont (Oglala Sioux Tribe, NIHB Health Policy Fellowship Alumni), Colbie Meeks (Cheyenne and Arapaho) and Maka Monture (Tlingit, Kanien’kehá:ka, NIHB Health Policy Fellowship Alumni) at the 2018 National Tribal Health Conference

Ihanktonwan Dakota/Dine Youth Wins Leadership Award

At the Heroes in Indian Health award ceremony, Cante Waste Win Zephier won the Youth Leadership Award for her outstanding efforts to positively impact the health and wellbeing of others in her community. Ms. Win Zephier not only acted as a mentor in her community healing camp, she also sold over 750 T-shirts and raised over $10,000 for the camp. She has also worked with leaders to change American Indian mascots in schools and has used her voice to make sure that others who have experienced trauma don’t feel alone.

Cante Waste Win Zephier, Recipient of the NIHB Youth Leadership Award

Encouraging Youth Participation

The National Indian Health Board is committed to creating space at our conferences for youth voices. Please encourage youth in your community to submit presentation proposals to next year’s National Tribal Health Conference.

Participation at NTHC provides youth the ability to:

  • Learn about policies that impact the health of Indian people
  • Observe the Tribal Consultation process in action
  • Learn how to be effective advocates
  • Connect with others interested in pursuing careers in governance, health policy, and healthcare, and
  • Network with Tribal, state, and federal leaders

Connect with Us

To learn more about how NIHB supports Native youth through the Health Policy Fellowship program and other initiatives, please contact, NIHB’s Native Youth Engagement Manager, Dr. Wendee Gardner at or 202-548-7297.

Also follow us on social media, where we will highlight youth achievements, provide tools and resources for engaging in health policy, and announce the launch of our new NIHB Youth page, as well as new mini-grant opportunities for Native youth!