Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) honored the late Carole Anne Heart, Indian health and education advocate, with the following statement in the Congressional Record today.
Mr. President, I rise today to honor one of the most dedicated advocates for health care treaty rights for American Indian Tribes in my state and throughout the United States, Carole Anne Heart. Carole Anne was the Executive Director for the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. The Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board operates several programs for native people in a four-state region that represents 18 tribes including the nine treaty tribes in my home state of South Dakota. During her tenure with the Chairmen’s Health Board, programs such as Healthy Start, Tobacco Prevention and Asthma Prevention expanded to serve hundreds of native men, women and children. With her assistance, the Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center opened and serves the tribal nations through its many projects and partnerships with the Indian Health Service and other federal agencies.
A Sicangu Lakota and Ihanktonwan Dakota, Carole Anne grew up with the Lakota culture all around her; as a young child, she spent much time with her grandmother and great grandmother, learning the Lakota values. She went to boarding school in Marty, South Dakota, and then on to high school at Saint Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Her life’s work included water rights and women’s rights, and, most recently, health care advocacy. As the Executive Director to the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, she worked to incorporate traditional customs into the contemporary programming so the language and the culture would continue. She led many conferences and workshops around the United States on tribal health care issues. Carole Anne was well-known for her humor—she would light up a room with her jokes and laughter. Often times her sense of humor interjected itself as she led some of the most serious discussions on health care disparities. Her use of the phrase “Don’t get sick after June” was in reference to the lack of funding the Indian Health Service has at that time of the fiscal year which meant that services were unavailable to many tribal members. While this is a very serious issue, Carole Anne was able to make light of the situation and remained focused on bettering health care for native peoples throughout Indian Country.
Her Lakota name was Waste Wayankapi Win, meaning "When People See You, They See Something Good." How fitting a name for someone who would spread ‘good’ throughout Indian Country. On Friday, January 25, 2008, after a courageous battle with cancer, Carole Anne Heart made her journey to the spirit world. I extend my sympathy to her family and those close to her. She will be missed greatly by everyone she touched on her journey through this world.
National Indian Education Association - http://www.niea.org
Tribal Chairmen's Health Board - http://www.aatchb.org
Carole Anne Heart, Indian advocate, dies at 61