Native Americans, also known as American Indians, are the aboriginal people of the western hemisphere. The 574 Native American tribes are federally recognized as sovereign and governed according to tribal law, with each tribe having its distinct rules and regulations. Most of the native population is concentrated around South West parts of the U.S., such as California, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Native Americans and Alaska Natives’ population is 6.6 million, making up about 2% of the total U.S. population. The population is considered vulnerable due to its inadequate access to comprehensive health services. Neglect of the community has led to health and social discrepancies relative to other U.S. societies (Kosel and Persaud, 2020). The population has a high mortality rate with a life expectancy four years short than other Americans. Native Americans are 50% more likely to have heart disease, and their susceptibility to diabetes is twice more than other Americans (Zamora-Kapoor, Sinclair, Nelson, Lee, and Buchwald, 2019). The population lacks regular care sources and lacks diversity in the healthcare workforce, leading to a communication barrier and high poverty rates.
The Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal government agency, was created to provide essential healthcare services for Native Americans. However, the agency is greatly underfunded by the federal government due to under-representation in Congress. Congress’s role is oversight over federal government spending; thus, with a minimal presentation, the population lacks the numbers to lobby for more funding. Health personnel must understand the history and cultural setting of native Americans to grasp the impact of history and how it influences social interactions and family setups. Health workers also need adequate knowledge of the population’s language and practices since Natives Americans closely relate to customary practices, such as the general idea of healing from the ancestral perspective.
The native Americans rarely accept aid from foreigners favoring an autonomous system. The nursing advocacy approach’s modification should be through cultural competency as understanding Native American culture is paramount for health practitioners working with the population. Nurses should embrace cultural competency strategies to serve them with cultural sensitivity and respect. The health workers build a rapport with the population establishing a foundation of trust and mutual respect.