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Our Tradition of Health: 20 years of Tribal self-governance and leadership

November 27, 2017

Tribal self-governance has been decades in the making, but it reached an important milestone in the fall of 1997. Congressional passage of Public Law 105-83 recognized the work of Tribal health organizations across Alaska to collaborate on statewide Tribal health services under the newly created Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. This innovative idea would set Alaska Native people on the path to becoming the healthiest people in the world.

The first ANTHC Board of Directors met in December 1997 and throughout the next 20 years, the ANTHC board marked new achievements in Tribal self-governance. This year, ANTHC celebrates its history and the improvements to Alaska Native health care that have been accomplished through our Tribal leadership and ownership by our people.

ANTHC Board and Tribal leadership make it possible to design programs and services that serve the Alaska Native health needs identified by our people. ANTHC’s Tribal leadership has worked to make meaningful changes to the way services are delivered, create new programs to address the emergent health needs of our people and develop priorities focused on positive health outcomes.

Throughout 2018, look for more stories and highlights from ANTHC’s 20 years of operations. If you have stories to share about ANTHC or the history of the Alaska Tribal Health System, send an email to


ANTHC Highlights: 1997-2017

Below are some of the key milestones in pursuit of our vision.



  • Indian Health Service opens new Alaska Native Medical Center
  • ANTHC incorporates as a nonprofit organization



  • Contract with IHS transfers statewide services to ANTHC, including Environmental Health and Engineering



  • ANTHC and Southcentral Foundation assume joint management of ANMC
  • ANMC earns certification as a Level II Trauma Center, a distinction it still holds today
  • AFHCAN telehealth project launches



  • ANTHC begins training village-based Dental Health Aide Therapists
  • The Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative is created to improve water quality and lower energy costs



  • ANMC achieves prestigious Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence, the gold standard for superior nursing practice and patient outcomes, a designation it still holds today



  • Community Health Services expands to include training program for 60 new Behavioral Health Aides



  • ANTHC institutes tobacco-free campus policy



  • ANTHC completes study that shows in-home water service reduces respiratory diseases and skin infections in children
  • ANTHC launches Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation



  • Vaccination program virtually eliminates hepatitis A infections around Alaska



  • ANTHC and the Alaska Tribal Health System receive the American Hospital Association’s Carolyn Boone Lewis Living the Vision Award for work that goes beyond traditional hospital care



  • ANMC hospital opens Alaska’s first hybrid operating room
  • ANTHC begins new drug treatments to cure hepatitis C



  • ANMC receives highest level of Pediatric Facility Recognition designation for superior pediatric care
  • Kivalina water and sewer pilot project launches, an innovative solution for in-home service in the age of climate change



  • Specialty medical clinics expand to 40,000 square feet of new clinic space in the Healthy Communities Building



  • Patient Housing at ANMC opens with 202-rooms for traveling patients and Alaska’s first Ronald McDonald House

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