The term “Vulnerable Population” is defined as, populations or groups whose needs are not fully addressed by traditional service providers. These populations of people feel they cannot comfortably or safely access and use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, relief and recovery. According to statistics of vulnerable populations, American Indians are part of the vulnerable populations of the United States. This vulnerable population has had to face irreversible damages all their lives. Based on treaties, laws, presidential executive orders and numerous court decisions, the United States established federally governmental relationships with the American Indian and Alaskan Tribes through the Cherokee Nation V. Georgia
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Although, The “Government health care for American Indians, was rooted in the Constitution, it has been a long and bumpy road faced with many obstacles and red tape to receive medical attention. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975 that the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act integrated American Indians into Medicare and Medicaid and put tribes in charge of their own care.”(Beam, 2009).
Indians of all tribes and income levels, continue to face higher disparities when compared to the general population as a whole in areas of life expectancy, education, health crisis such as diabetes, suicide levels, tuberculosis and alcoholism. Because of the lack of family and traditional cultural environments, Urban Indians are at a greater risk for serious mental health and substance abuse problems, suicidal rates and increased gang activities. Teen pregnancy and cases of abuse and neglect are high in comparison to other races. Studies show the urban Indian population documents poor health status and reveal the lack of adequate health care services for the majority of families ("Indian health services," Jan). Although the Indian Health Care services have progressed, substantial health disparities continue to exist and excel when compared to the general population. HIS implemented Health and Human Services priorities to be directed towards the accountability and provision of higher quality health services for the urban Indian population. To