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.