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Center for Rural Health to establish new Native elder program

The Center for Rural Health (CRH) at The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences has received funding to create the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI).

Funded by the Administration on Aging, NIEJI will focus on resources to prevent and address Native American elder abuse by developing model policy and codes for tribal law, providing resources to address identifying and intervening in elder abuse, and providing information on the exploitation of the elderly in indigenous communities.

In addition to providing resources, NIEJI will develop model plans for reporting, investigating, and intervening in indigenous elder abuse cases that involve authorities across tribal, state, and federal jurisdictions.

Dr. Jacque Gray, director of NIEJI, said, "The National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative will address a cavernous gap that exists for indigenous elders. Because the investigations cross tribal, state, and sometimes federal boundaries, there are many obstacles. NIEJI hopes that by providing model codes for tribal governments and processes for investigation and intervention our native elders can be protected and honored in a way that preserves their dignity."

The National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative will establish a website, a toll free phone number, and other resources to assist Native elders.