November is Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, recognized by proclamation from President Donald Trump and from Governor Doug Ducey, and honoring the significant contributions of indigenous communities in the United States. Arizona is home to varied and diverse traditions, cultures, languages, and histories of 22 federally recognized tribes. The work of our agency is rooted in a respect for tribal sovereignty and a commitment to working with tribes to develop policies that help to decrease health disparities and increase positive health outcomes for tribal members. As part of this work, AHCCCS Tribal Relations invites you to learn more about this month and the tribal communities that we serve. Additionally, please feel free to participate in the Native American Heritage Month events sponsored by our partners across the state.

What started at the turn of the century as a single day to recognize the significant contributions that the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has become a month-long celebration.

One of the proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kan., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe Indian, to call upon the United States to observe such a day. The town of Coolidge, Ariz.issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal to recognize Native Americans as U.S. citizens. 

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments to the White House. There is no record, however, of a national American Indian Day ever being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Additionally, several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted an American Indian Day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Native American Films
Learn more from these films from PBS featuring Indigenous voices.

Many groups are hosting Native American Heritage Month events in-person and virtually around the state. 

November 2-20
Arizona Statewide Tribal Veterans Symposium

The Arizona Statewide Tribal Veteran Symposium is hosted by Steward Health Choice Arizona/Blue Cross Blue Shield and is a series of virtual presentations. D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas is this year’s keynote.
To register:

Friday, November 6, 9 a.m.—11 a.m.
Culture is Prevention

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Micheon Gorman, Prevention Program Manager at Phoenix Indian Center.
To register:

Friday, November 13, 10 a.m.—11 a.m.
Overview of the Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF) & the Harvard Project

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Selina Jesus, program coordinator at NAAF.
To register:

Saturday, November 14, 7 a.m.—10 a.m.
Garden Workday at NATIVE HEALTH Keep Phoenix Beautiful (KPB) Traditional Garden

Every second Saturday of the month is a Garden Work Day at NATIVE HEALTH’s Traditional Garden at KPB Pierson Garden. Participants can help tend the garden, plant, or help pick the vegetable harvest.
Address: 1822 W. Pierson St., Phoenix, AZ 85015
Contact: (602) 279-5262, ext. 3109 

November 16-21, 12:00 p.m.
5K Run/Walk

Run or walk on your own time, any day the week, Nov. 16-21. Participants who complete 5K will receive a NACA cooling towel.
Submit your name, date, time and place run by Saturday, Nov 21, 4:00 pm, by email to the contact below.
Contact: Jordan Mockta,, 928-779-1245, ext. 221

Monday, November 16, 8:30 a.m.
Tsiiyééł Navajo Hair Tying Virtual presentation by Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie

Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 955 2149 9458
Passcode: 788107
Offering limited supply of hair ties to the community at Native Americans for Community Action, 2717 N. Steves Blvd., Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

Monday, November 16, 12:00 p.m.
Ready to Run?

Virtual presentation by Wellness Center Staff on Native Americans for Community Action YouTube channel, virtual connection.

Tuesday, November 17, 6 p.m.—7:30 p.m.
Virtual Presentation: “Feed the Body, Nurture the Soul” by Chef Lois, Chef Walter, and Caroline Trapp

An expert chef will lead you on a tour through time to explore the foodways of Native Ancestors, and an expert diabetes nurse practitioner will offer inspiration and resources to begin or continue a journey towards better health and mood.
Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 990 1776 0234
Passcode: 372979

November 17, 3 p.m.—4 p.m.
Holistic Healthcare from a Native American Perspective

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Dr. Sophina Calderon, deputy chief of staff at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation.
To register:

November 20, 10 a.m.
Native American Heritage Month Celebration
This Native American Heritage Month Celebration is presented by Health Choice Arizona/Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Christian Takes Gun “Supaman” is the featured presenter.
To register:
Contact: Holly Figueroa,, (928) 214-2169

Saturday, November 21, 8:00 a.m.
Morning Gratitude & Walk/Run at Buffalo Park

Meet at Buffalo Park at 2400 N. Gemini Rd., Flagstaff. Masks and social distancing are required.

November 28, 7 a.m.–10 a.m.
Garden Workday at NATIVE HEALTH Agave Farms Community Garden

Every fourth Saturday of the month is a Garden Work Day at NATIVE HEALTH’s Community Garden at Agave Farms. Participants can help tend the garden, plant, or help pick the vegetable harvest! No reservations necessary.
Address: 4300 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012


Red Ribbon Week Promotes Drug-Free Lifestyle

Red Ribbon Week

Every October, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holds its annual Red Ribbon Week (RRW) Campaign to honor fallen DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” S. Camarena, and to remind Americans that we all can live healthy lives without drugs.

The name Kiki Camerena may be familiar to some of you if you’ve watched Narcos: Mexico on Netflix, but there’s much more to his story and how the Red Ribbon Campaign came to be. Shortly after Kiki’s death at the hands of drug traffickers in 1985, individuals came together to memorialize Kiki and formed “Camarena Clubs” in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, CA. Hundreds of the club members wore red ribbons and pledged to live drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Kiki and others. The campaign gained momentum in the following years, and in 1988 made its way to Washington, D.C. where it was formalized and received presidential recognition. In 2020, RRW remains one of the largest, oldest, and most successful substance abuse prevention campaigns in the United States. 

During the week of October 23 – 31, you’re invited to wear red and to pledge to live healthy, drug-free lives. A pledge can as simple as talking to your kids and loved ones about the dangers of drug use, wearing something red during the week, trying a new exercise class, learning how to cook a healthy new recipe, or just taking a moment to reflect and honor those who have lost their lives and those who continue to fight in the pursuit of making our country healthy and drug-free.
For more information about the campaign and Kiki’s story, check out the resource available at and share your efforts on social media using the hashtags #DEARedRibbon and #GoRed4RedRibbon.


Implementation of New Statutory Requirements Impacting AHCCCS

Although the 2020 legislative session ended abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a few bills which will impact the State’s Medicaid program successfully navigated their way to the Governor’s desk and were signed into law. These laws go into effect on August 25, 2020.

AHCCCS must take steps to implement these new laws, which often include updates to rules, contracts, policies, provider registration, claims processing, financial monitoring and reporting, the state plan, and in some instances even the Waiver.

Bills which were signed into law in the 2020 legislative session include:

SB1523, the Mental Health Omnibus, establishes the Children’s Behavioral Health Services Fund, and appropriates $8 million to be administered by AHCCCS. The Fund is to be used to enter into an agreement with one or more contractors for behavioral health (BH) services for children who are uninsured/underinsured, is referred for BH services by an educational institution, and has written parental consent to obtain the BH services. Under this legislation,  AHCCCS is also to conduct a survey of public schools to obtain information regarding the delivery of BH services on or off school grounds. The bill also creates the suicide mortality review team to review data around suicide and recommend changes to laws or rules to decrease the incidences of preventable suicide.

HB2668 creates the Health Care Investment Fund, for the purpose of funding the non-federal share of the cost for directed payments to hospitals, and for payments to physicians and dentists to restore provider rates to the rate levels in existence before FY2008-2009.

HB2244 will allow AHCCCS to reimburse for adult emergency dental services in excess of the $1,000 statutory limit for members receiving services through an IHS/638 facility, and qualify for 100 percent Federal match (contingent upon approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).