- By Native News Online Staff
Earlier this month, Native News Online talked with Larry Curley (Navajo), the executive director of the National Indian Council on Aging. He spoke with us about how his agency is striving to meet the needs of older Native Americans across Indian Country. We’re publishing our Q & A with Curley here. The discussion has been edited for content and clarity.
Native News Online: Larry, the National Indian Council on Aging has been involved with a caregiver campaign for the past couple months. What are the stories that still need to be told?
Larry Curley: I think one of the things that I’m really looking at is the Build Back Better Bill that’s going through Congress right now, because a significant amount of funds that are available could be available to Indian Country, for taking care of our elders to the caretaker program or cardiac care caregivers program.
Another story that should be told is that this whole COVID pandemic that we have gone through and are still going through has really shown some glaring gaps in where Indian Country is in relationship to the rest of the country.
The infrastructure legislation that was passed and signed by President Biden should have a very significant role in getting broadband to Indian Country. The COVID pandemic really showed what a major gap there is–the inequity in terms of access to the internet and broadband. We could have done some very creative things with telehealth, telemedicine, and reducing social isolation. All of those issues have risen to the top as a result of the pandemic.
Native News Online: What resources are available for Native American caregivers?
We’ve been working with a group called the IA Squared, which is the International Association for Indigenous Aging. They have a program now where they can provide resources to allow those caretakers to take a break, get respite care for themselves. One of the things we do know at the National Indian Council on Aging is that in any endeavor, you can’t do it alone. You have to develop partnerships and relationships, collaborative efforts with other organizations. And that’s what we’ve been doing with IA Squared, because we know that what we do can sometimes be limited, but with a chain effort, you can have a major impact.