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Little Shell Tribe To Open Holistic Health Clinic In 2021

A yellow sign contains the logo of a bison outline in black with a pink heart symbol on its chest sits within a circle of yellow, blue, red and black over the following words on a red banner, "COMING 2021 Little Shell Tribal Health Clinic."
Little Shell Tribal Health
In a photo posted to the Little Shell Tribal Health Facebook page, a sign posted outside the site of Little Shell's future health clinic displays the clinic's logo and their 2021 opening announcement.

The United States recognized the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians as a sovereign nation just one year ago this week. Next year, the tribe will work with the federal Indian Health Service to open its own tribal health clinic.

Tribal Health Director Molly Wendland says the tribe will launch a health care system to provide medical, dental, behavioral and traditional care to tribal members at their own clinic in Great Falls.

"We've been a landless tribe and a reservation-less tribe, and so to have something of our own and to be able to provide our members care is really important to us," Wendland says.

The Little Shell Tribal health clinic will likely open in late summer of 2021. But Wendland says work on the tribe’s first health care facility is well under way.

"We just completed demolition of the building that we purchased and we're in the design phase and we're getting ready to start with the remodel."

Wendland says the team will offer a holistic approach to health care. As an example, she says she’s working closely with Little Shell’s Housing Director, Heath LaFromboise, to ensure patients aren’t struggling with homelessness as health care and housing are closely connected.

"So our primary care team will focus on sort of understanding each of our customers and their own unique story and values and influences, in an effort to kind of engage them in their care and support long term behavior change and help our tribal members be successful," Wendland says.

Kaitlyn Nicholas is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America tribal affairs reporter.

Kaitlyn Nicholas covers tribal news in Montana.