The history of the United Indian Health Services began in 1968. It was a time when Native activism coincided with the nation-wide Civil Rights Movement and the Office of Economic Opportunity programs. Together these factors helped create a new era of self-determination for Indian peoples.
In California, where health services were so lacking, Indian groups formed their own health organizations. Each maintained its separate programs but together they started the California Rural Indian Health Board Inc. (CRIHB), an organization which continues providing its members with a variety of quality improvement and advocacy services. Sheer determination, hard work and financial sacrifice paid off when UIHS became an official non-profit organization, ready to serve people in 1970.
UIHS started with community outreach services. The first services provided on site were dental services. UIHS continued to expand it’s services into nearly every large town within Humboldt County, as well as servicing tribal members from every Rancheria and Reservation in the areas of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. The use of UIHS mobile services allowed the clinic to provide services to tribal members who still lived in areas that had no electricity or telephones.
Over the next twenty years UIHS outgrew four sites, started several satellite clinics, and went from offering basic visiting community health representative’s, dental and medical services to a thoroughly modern, full spectrum health service agency. Along the way UIHS has increasingly realized it’s goal of incorporating traditional values and customs into daily activities.