Breastfeeding Obstacles

Breastfeeding may be natural but it doesn’t come naturally without good support. Challenges of city living have urban Native moms forgoing breastmilk and reaching for formula.


Dental Therapists

Lack of dentists in tribal areas is a multi-faceted problem. Could dental therapists ease the pain of oral health disparities in American Indian/Alaskan Native communities?

Michael Teeple, 62, of Portland, Ore., has only been to the dentist once for an emergency in the last two decades. He’s missing most of his back teeth and knows he needs dental work. But he works full time, has no car and to get dental care, he would have to drive an hour or more to one of three tribal clinics in the region.

Adult Teeth

Dental health gains are not so evident for adults in Indian County since the last national IHS survey in 1999. Help has come too late for many Native American elders.

Dr. Kristi Lisenmayer, a pediatric dentist, works in November, 2013, on the teeth of two Native American brothers in Ketchikan, Alaska, where she runs a part-time clinic, mostly for Native children. She also operates a clinic in Seattle and provides services for children on the Nooksack Indian Reservation in northern Washington. (Courtesy Photo)

Urban Dental

While tribal and reservation dental clinics often lack sufficient dentists, Indian clinics in cities, where most Native Americans live, have even fewer — and sometimes none.

Jessica Greene’s 17-month-old daughter Emerie has only 10 teeth so far, but they’ve been inspected five times by Head Start workers, varnished with fluoride and checked twice by dentists at the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s clinic on the tribe’s reservation on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. After seeing her older son’s teeth damaged by cavities, Greene made sure her daughter got dental care early.

IHS Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can undermine a child’s physical and psychological health in sinister ways. An IHS initiative steps up prevention efforts with new message for parents.

Camie Jae Goldhammer and daughter Dylan Phaye Goldhammer

IHS is Baby-Friendly

Breastfeeding becoming the norm at more Native hospitals. Indian Health Service taking quick steps toward goal of Baby-Friendly certification for all of its hospitals.

PBJ and Milk

Breastfeeding Nutrition

Tips for how Native moms who breastfeed can choose nutritious commodity foods and common sense habits to support infant health and growth.

Port Gamble

Breastfeeding Data

Despite being statistically more likely to breastfeed, many Native American mothers stop nursing after 6 months. Mental concerns top the list of difficulties they face.

Crystal Leonard and Coltrane Leonard

Breastfeeding Coalitions

Coalitions and other tribal and statewide Native breastfeeding groups are sprouting up in Nevada, Arizona, South Dakota, and other parts of Indian Country.