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October 11, 1985

American Indian medicine aims to add physicians, improve health

JAMA. 1985;254(14):1871-1872. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360140017002

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Chief Algernon Fast Horse, spiritual leader of the Sioux, opened the annual meeting of the Association of American Indian Physicians with a prayer to Manitou, the Great Spirit, for the health of its members and the success of their endeavors. All of those present hope his prayers will be answered.

Of some 600 physicians in the Indian Health Service, the branch of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for providing medical care to Native Americans, only 26 are Indians. That statistic comes from Joseph J. Jacobs, MD, a pediatrician who is a Brooklyn-born, Ivy League-educated, Robert Wood Johnson clinical scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia—and a member of the Caughnawaga Mohawk tribe.

Jacobs is one of the most active members of the Association of American Indian Physicians, a group started in 1971 by seven of them. It now consists of 135 men and women who can