National Resource Center on Native American Aging celebrates 25 years

Several leaders and supporters of the NRCNAA were recognized at the December 18 event. Among them were (from left), Cynthia LaCounte; Kathy Allery, Dr. Allan Allery’s widow; Gina Allery, Dr. Allen Allery’s daughter; Dr. Richard Ludtke; Brad Hawk, who appeared on behalf of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and represented Dr. Russ McDonald; Dr. Twyla Baker; and Dr. Paula Morin-Carter. Also pictured is Dr. Collette Adamsen, current director of the NRCNAA. LaCounte is the director of the Office for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Programs with the Administration on Aging, an agency of the Administration for Community Living, which is responsible for programs for social and supportive services for older adults. Dr. Allen Allery worked with American Indian people for 30 years—15 years with Indian Health Service and 15 years with UND, including his time as NRCNAA director beginning in 1995. Ludtke was a research director at the NRCNAA for 14 years. McDonald was director of the NRCNAA from 2006 to 2008. Baker served as director of the NRCNAA from January 2009 to July 2013. Morin-Carter was NRCNAA director from 2013-2017.
Several leaders and supporters of the NRCNAA were recognized at the Dec. 18 event. Among them were (from left), Cynthia LaCounte; Kathy Allery, Dr. Allan Allery’s widow; Gina Allery, Dr. Allen Allery’s daughter; Dr. Richard Ludtke; Brad Hawk, who appeared on behalf of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and represented Dr. Russ McDonald; Dr. Twyla Baker; and Dr. Paula Morin-Carter. Also pictured is Dr. Collette Adamsen, current director of the NRCNAA. LaCounte is the director of the Office for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Programs with the Administration on Aging, an agency of the Administration for Community Living, which is responsible for programs for social and supportive services for older adults. Dr. Allen Allery worked with American Indian people for 30 years—15 years with Indian Health Service and 15 years with UND, including his time as NRCNAA director beginning in 1995. Ludtke was a research director at the NRCNAA for 14 years. McDonald was director of the NRCNAA from 2006 to 2008. Baker served as director of the NRCNAA from January 2009 to July 2013. Morin-Carter was NRCNAA director from 2013-2017.

About 70 people attended the 25th anniversary celebration for the National Resource Center on Native American Aging (NRCNAA) Dec. 18 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The keynote speaker was Dr. Donald Warne, associate dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (UND SMHS).

Along with celebrating the NRCNAA’s milestone anniversary, several former directors and advocates for the organization were honored as well. Among those recognized for their service were Dr. Leigh Jeanotte, the late Dr. Alan Allery, Dr. Leander “Russ” McDonald, Dr. Twyla Baker, Dr. Paula Morin-Carter, Dr. Richard Ludtke, and Cynthia LaCounte.

In addition, a proclamation signed by Governor Doug Burgum was read by current NRCNAA Director Collette Adamsen declaring Dec. 18, 2019, Native American Elder Recognition Day. U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer also sent a letter congratulating the NRCNAA and applauding the program’s efforts to improve the lives of Native American elders across the country.

“Native American have traditionally placed a high value on respecting and caring for their elders,” Cramer wrote. “For the past 25 years, the NRCNAA has helped to meet the greatest challenges of serving aging American Indians. Affordable housing options, meal programs, long-term care, medical services, and legal assistance are among the issues faced by the elderly in tribal communities nationwide, and the NRCNAA has been a valued partner in successfully meeting these challenges.”

Part of the Center for Rural Health at the UND SMHS, the NRCNAA’s mission is to identify and increase awareness of evolving Native elder health and social issues. The NRCNAA strives to empower Native people to develop community-based solutions.