History and Overview

In recognition of the American Indian Holocaust and land stolen from the Tribal Nations by the United States Government, treaties were written between the U.S. Government and Indian Tribes, promising the provision of medical services, the services of physicians, and the provision of hospitals for the care of Indian people. Even before these treaties, the United States Constitution specifically addressed the federal government’s primary role in dealing with Indians in the commerce and treaty clauses. Out of numerous cases, such as the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), the guardian/ward relationship was created that forms the basis of the trust relationship. The Snyder Act of 1921 (25 USC 13) and the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act [enacted in 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148)] provide specific legislative authority for Congress to appropriate funds specifically for the health care of Indian people. In addition, numerous other laws, court cases, and Executive Orders reaffirm the unique relationship between tribal governments and the federal government. Therefore, numerous Tribal Health Boards were created to advocate for Tribal Nations across the Unites States and their needs related to tribal health and tribal public health.

Who we are

The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board (SPTHB) is a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Health Board was established in 1972 to provide a unified voice on tribal public health needs and policy for the 43 federally recognized tribes located in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Board membership includes representatives from the 12 service units in the Indian Health Service (IHS) Oklahoma Area.

Our role

The SPTHB serves as a liaison between the National Indian Health Board, (which works closely with Congress and the Senate on Indian Health Policy for Indian Country) and the 43 federally recognized tribes in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Our role is to improve tribal public health outcomes for American Indians through partnerships, advocacy, education, data, and research, as well as training.

our promise

We value, believe in, and aspire to be accountable to our most precious assets: our tribal nations and their multi-generational communities. We pledge to put our tribal nations and communities first. We strive to continually improve the services we provide to our tribal nations by making sure our actions mirror our mission, vision, and values.

our core values

Our values are rooted in our Native American origins, our shared culture of courage and perseverance in the face of homeland removal and suffering, and our clear focus on transformation through tribal community empowerment. They are:


We lead with others in mind. We value everyone’s contributions and regularly seek out opinions. We intentionally cultivate trust and collaboration. We set positive examples and invest in others so that they can follow the roles of leadership.


We stay accountable to our tribal nations by making sure our actions mirror our mission, vision, and values. We listen, learn, act, and repeat to strengthen our role within our tribal nations.


We treat others as we expect to be treated. We embrace each individual’s unique talents and respect diverse life and work styles. We operate in a spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and inclusiveness.


We anticipate change and acknowledge forward-thinking solutions to overcome problems. We believe in the power of great ideas and that these ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime.


We act promptly, enthusiastically, and professionally so people are WOW-ed by their interactions with us. We work with enthusiasm and are driven to surpass what has already been achieved. We use data and feedback to guide our course.


We do the right thing. We conduct our business in accordance with the highest standards of professional behavior and ethics. We are transparent, honest, and ethical in all our interactions with employees, supporters, partners, vendors, and the public.