Chairman Rambler speaking at Hospital grand opening on July 13, 2015.

It was a historic day on July 13, 2015.  Our Tribe took ownership of our health care services from the Indian Health Services.  We celebrated our Tribe’s construction of a new state of the art health care facility.  This was a day to determine our own future, a true positive statement of self-determination that reinforces our Sovereignty.

In June 1872, the U.S. Army Calvary established the San Carlos Post, naming it after the San Carlos River.  The Post had a physician and an infirmary.  In October 1875, the troops were removed and the Army abandoned Post San Carlos.  But the camp was soon reoccupied by the Indian Agency with their physician.

In 1900, the Rice Boarding School was built at Talkalai (later to be known as Rice then as present-day San Carlos).  The Indian Agency doctor came to the boarding school via horse and buggy to check the students and give medical treatment.  In 1901 or 1902, a doctor by the name of Perkins became school principal, the first resident doctor for Talkalai/Rice.  He treated the students and their parents.

In February 1904, a hospital was built at the Rice Boarding School containing ten beds, a nurse’s room and pharmacy.  Sometime between 1911 and 1913, the old military hospital at Old San Carlos was converted into apartments for government workers, but a Doctor’s office and pharmacy remained.  Four tent houses were set up for patients.

1915 saw the first medical persons living and working in Bylas, a field nurse who made home visits, treated minor illnesses, and referred patients that she could not treat to the Agency Doctor.  By 1916, there were three field nurses and two doctors on the Reservation.

From March through May of 1921, chicken pox and measles epidemic swept through the Reservation.  More beds were needed so tents were set up at the Boarding School as well as Old San Carlos.  In 1923, the Reservation medical staff increased to two doctors and four field nurses (one each at the Boarding School, Old San Carlos Agency, Bylas and Peridot).  Sometime around 1927, a Doctor moved to Bylas as a full time resident.

In 1929, the San Carlos Agency hospital was completed (the present-day Social Service Building).  That same year the Indian Agency moved from Old San Carlos to Rice and the old medical clinic was torn down.  Exactly one year later the name of Rice was changed to San Carlos.

In 1955, an Act of Congress transferred the medical program for the Reservation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Public Health Service.  At that time, there was one doctor at San Carlos and one at Bylas.  In 1963, the hospital in San Carlos was completed and staffed by 59 employees, which included four doctors.

When health care services were first provided to our people, to getting a new hospital in 1963, and now to getting another new hospital in 2015, I want to take this time to thank all our tribal leaders from yesterday and today.  Please forgive me if I have missed anyone.  Thank you to the following Tribal Chairman:

  1. Henry Chinn – 1934-1936
  2. Victor Kindelay – 1936-1938
  3. Ernest Victor, Sr. – 1938-1940
  4. Roy Harney – 1940-1942
  5. Clarence Smith – 1942-1944
  6. Clarence Bullis – 1944-1946
  7. Clarence Bullis – 1946-1948
  8. Clarence Wesley – 1948-1952
  9. Clarence Wesley – 1952-1954
  10. Jess J. Stevens – 1954-1958
  11. Jess J. Stevens – 1958-1962
  12. Jess J. Stevens – 1962-1965
  13. Clarence Wesley – 1965-1968
  14. Marvin Mull, Sr. – 1968-1971
  15. Marvin Mull, Sr. – 1971-1974
  16. Marvin Mull, Sr. – 1974-1977
  17. Buck Kitcheyan, Sr. – 1977-1980
  18. Ned Anderson, Sr. – 1980-1983
  19. Ned Anderson, Sr. – 1983-1986
  20. Buck Kitcheyan, Sr. – 1986-1989
  21. Raleigh Thompson – 1989-1992
  22. Harrison Talgo, Sr. – 1992-1994
  23. Raymond Stanley, Sr. – 1994-1998
  24. Raymond Stanley, Sr. – 1998-2002
  25. Kathy Wesley Kitcheyan – 2002-2006
  26. Wendsler Nosie, Sr. – 2006-2010
  27. Terry Rambler – 2010-2014
  28. Terry Rambler – 2014-2018
  29. Terry Rambler – 2018-2022.

Thank you to the following Vice Chairman:

  1. Jess J. Stevens
  2. Robert Key, Sr.
  3. Oliver Talgo, Sr.
  4. Oliver Talgo, Sr.
  5. Marvin Mull, Sr.
  6. Harrison Porter, Sr.
  7. Edmund Wesley
  8. Wesley Gilbert, Sr.
  9. Wesley Gilbert, Sr.
  10. Allen Early
  11. Ronald Edwards
  12. Raymond Stanley, Sr.
  13. Marvin Mull, Jr.
  14. Valesquez Sneezy, Sr.
  15. Robert Howard
  16. Dr. John Bush
  17. Tao Etpison

Thank you to the following Bylas District Council:

  1. Newton Pike
  2. Dolly Victor
  3. Leroy Kitcheyan
  4. Forest Robertson
  5. Burnette Rope
  6. John Wesley
  7. Rose Rope
  8. Robert Olivar, Sr.
  9. Shirley Titla
  10. Myron Moses
  11. Terry Rambler
  12. Jonathan Kitcheyan
  13. Martha Interpreter Baylish
  14. Hugh Moses, Jr.
  15. Alicia Cadmus
  16. Allred Pike, Jr.
  17. Eugene David Nozie

Thank you to the following Gilson Wash District Council:

  1. William Shorten
  2. Ernest Victor, Sr.
  3. Dick Boni
  4. Herbert Edwards
  5. Frank Cutter
  6. Udell Brown
  7. Ernest Victor, Jr.
  8. Charlotte Titla
  9. David Thompson, Sr.
  10. Rhyne Dosela
  11. Ronald Boni
  12. Margarite Faras
  13. William Belvado
  14. Charles Stevens
  15. David Reede
  16. Tao Etpison
  17. Simon Hooke
  18. Valesquez Sneezy, Sr.
  19. Barbara May

Thank you to the following Seven Mile District Council:

  1. Marvin Mull, Sr.
  2. Jerry Rambler, Sr.
  3. William Belknap
  4. Rupert Alden
  5. Caroline Cody
  6. Leo Natsyn
  7. Raleigh Thompson
  8. Josephine Goode
  9. Anthony Machukay
  10. Robert Howard
  11. Karen Key
  12. Bernadette Goode
  13. Mitch Hoffman
  14. John Antonio, Jr.

Thank you to the following Peridot District Council:

  1. Ernest Cutter
  2. Lambert Noline
  3. Ross Dia
  4. Verna Cassa
  5. Jackson Henry, Sr.
  6. Eugene Duncan
  7. Robert Key, Sr.
  8. Lucille Shorten
  9. Harding Burdette
  10. Walliman Clark, Sr.
  11. Dr. John Bush
  12. Fred Ferreira
  13. Wendsler Nosie, Sr.
  14. Valerie Key-Cheney

I have learned being a tribal leader that the big projects we accomplish on behalf of our people take time, it involves a process, and it takes continuity.  I have heard former and current tribal leaders say this and I have come to learn what it means.  Let me share two examples.

The first example is the construction process.  A comprehensive, strategic, and area wide master planning for our new Healthcare Facility started in the year 2000.  This partnership included the I.H.S., ITCA, and the 39 Phoenix Area I.H.S. Tribes, including our Tribe.  This initial planning process started in Chairman Raymond Stanley Sr.’s Administration, continued into Chairwoman Kathy Wesley Kitcheyan’s Administration, continued into Chairman Wendsler Nosie, Sr.’s Administration and was finished by Chairman Terry Rambler’s Administration.

There were two important documents that needed to be completed prior to the approval of our new healthcare facility, the Program Justification Document (PJD) and the Program of Requirement (POR) document.  The Program Justification Document (PJD) sets forth I.H.S.’s analysis of the healthcare workloads and needs for the San Carlos area population, the services that are currently provided and should be provided, and the size of the facility needed.  The Program of Requirements (POR) creates the need for office spaces and facility specifications based on the staffing identified.

The PJD was approved in 2005 and the POR.  I want to thank former Phoenix I.H.S. Area Director Don Davis and former CEO of the San Carlos Service Unit Nella Ben for their efforts in helping our Tribe with the PJD and POR documents.  We received our first funding for the planning, design, and construction of our new healthcare facility in 2004 and we received our last construction funding in 2014.

Without former Congressman Rick Renzi’s help, it would have been near impossible, if not at all, for us to build this new healthcare facility.  In spite of his current situation, we are thankful to him.

Whether it was under the Stanley Administration, Wesley-Kitcheyan Administration, Nosie Administration or the Rambler Administration, we all made many, many trips to Phoenix, AZ and Washington, DC, from the year 2000 to today, to lobby for the planning, design and construction of our new $116 million state of the art healthcare facility.  Because of our expanded healthcare facility, we also lobbied for 226 new positions.  Our new healthcare facility was projected to have 485 health care jobs.  We now have 781 health care jobs.  We anticipate to have over 1,000 jobs soon.

There was a process for the planning, design and construction of our new healthcare facility and it spanned over four Administrations.  Each Administration needed to provide that continuity in order for us to do what we did, build a new healthcare facility for our people.

The second example is the management and operation of the I.H.S. San Carlos Service Unit.  Our Construction Project Manager with help from a consultant conducted an initial feasibility study in 2008 to determine if it was feasible to assume management of our new healthcare facility.  But the environment at that time was not ready for this change in ownership from I.H.S. to the Tribe.

In 2011, the Tribal Council approved another feasibility study to be done.  The Tribe hired Kenneth White, Jr. (from a feasibility grant our Health Department successfully applied for) and started the process.  After countless meetings, including eight community meetings, and more involvement from others, the Tribal Council accepted the feasibility study.

Chairman Rambler touring the Hospital with San Carlos High School students in 2011 during construction.

In March 2012, our Council submitted a Notice of Intent to I.H.S. to contract for the management of the San Carlos Service Unit.  In June 2012, our Council created the San Carlos Apache Health Care Corporation, a non-profit corporation, to manage our new healthcare facility.  Our Corporation’s Board of Directors hired Deven Parlikar as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  Our current CEO is Victorica Began.  David Reede was our first President of the Board and the current Board President is Steve Titla.  Thank you to all the board members for their leadership and for taking this enormous challenge on to improve health care services for our people.  It will be a never-ending challenge.

In July 2014, the Tribal Council submitted a 638-contract proposal to contract for the management of the San Carlos Service Unit.  The Tribal Council also established a negotiation team to take the lead negotiating role.  Team members Alex Ritchie, Velda Williams, Regina Hovet, Patty Bowyer, Harding Burdette, Terry Jones, and Chairman Rambler successfully negotiated the self-determination contract to assume ownership.  Both I.H.S. and the Tribe approved the contract in June 2015.

It took seven years since that initial Feasibility Study to get to July 2015.  This process started in Chairman Nosie’s Administration and was finished in Chairman Rambler’s Administration.  Once again, there had to be continuity in order for us to assume ownership of our new healthcare facility.

I want to thank all the past and current Chairman, Vice Chairman, District Council and Departments for making this dream come true for our people.  I want to thank all former and current tribal leaders for helping to ensure that the federal government honors its trust responsibility to the San Carlos Apaches by providing health care services to our people.  Now, it will be our turn.  But the federal government will still have its trust responsibility to our people.  That will never go away.

And most of all, I thank our Creator God for answering our prayers for a new healthcare facility and providing us the opportunity to provide healthcare services to our own people.  We know we can do it and we shall do it for the benefit of our people.

As I ask our Creator God for his continual guidance, I also ask our tribal members for their prayers, patience, and understanding to improve health care services to every one of you.  May our Creator God bless the San Carlos Apache Tribe.