Native American Heritage Month

November was first proclaimed Native American Heritage Month in 1990 and would continue to be honored as such from 1994 to the present day.

The PA History Society would also like to honor PAs of Native heritage and those who work with Native communities to improve healthcare by sharing a selection of biographies and oral histories that we have on our collections.


Amiel Redfish: A graduate from the Indian Health Service PA Program, and was an advocate for the PA profession in South Dakota. He won the AAPA’s Rural PA of the Year in 1999. [Photo on right: Amiel Redfish celebrating Amiel Redfish Day, undated.]

Benjamin Olmedo: A member of the US Public Health Service, he serves in the Indian Health Service and is currently working in California.

Michael Milner: Was selected by the Director of the Indian Health Service to be the first Chief PA Consultant to the Director of IHS and served in that role from 1991 until 2001. He advocated for the use of PAs to improve healthcare for Native Americans and Alaska Natives in rural and underserved tribal clinics.

Oral Histories: 

Katherine GeeBah Footracer: Footracer shares how she became a PA and how she helped out during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also offers her thoughts on how the pandemic changed healthcare and how PAs are viewed.

Arnold Ketchum and Nicolette McDermott-Ketchum: Husband and wife PAs Arnold and Nicolette talk about what drew them to the PA profession, their work with the Indian Health Service, and what they feel are their greatest accomplishments. [Photo on right: Arnold and Nicolette during interview, 2019]

Andrea Heeter: Heeter works for the Indian Health Services. She talks about her work with the Indian Health Service and what she likes best about her job.

James Lesniak: Lesniak works with the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium. He explains how he became both interested in the profession and in serving in a remote village in Alaska, and talks about both the challenges and joys of his work.

Ben Olmedo: Olmedo shares how he learned about PAs while he was in the Army and about his work with the Indian Health Service.

Gale Pearce [Audio Only]: Pearce talks about his early career in the National Guard, joining an early PA program, the exposure to groups that he would be helping as a PA that the military did not prepare him for, and working in the Alaska Native Medical Service.