The American Society for Circumpolar Health announces its 2015 recipient of the Jack Hildes medal : Ms. H. Sally Smith.  Since 1987, the Hildes medal has been awarded at each International Congress on Circumpolar Health to distinguished individuals nominated by the adhering bodies of the International Union for Circumpolar Health. Since 1987, more than twenty researchers and health workers from Alaska, Canada, the Nordic countries and Russia have received this award. Between them, the recipients share an unsurpassed volume of knowledge and experience about the Arctic.

Ms. Smith, a Yup’ik Eskimo from Dillingham, Alaska has served as a health leader and advocate for over 45 years.  She has, tirelessly highlighted the health challenges and success stories of Alaska Native people, bringing them to the attention of government leaders, policy makers, funding agencies, academic institutions and to Alaska Native and American Indian people. She has dedicated her professional life to establishing culturally and scientifically appropriate research.

She is focused on forming partnerships and collaborative efforts to address the many health concerns facing Alaska Native people and is committed to involving communities in the process. Ms. Smith has mentored the next generation of tribal leadership and health professionals, and despite her non-stop travel schedule, has taken the time to ensure that this important work continues into the future so that the Alaska Tribal Health System can meet the needs of future generations.

Sally Smith serves as Chair of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation (BBAHC) and represents the Native village of Ekuk, is a member of the Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB), a Board member of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) where she has chaired the Health Research Review Committee for many years, co-chair of the Alaska Tribal Health Compact Tribal Caucus, and is a Board Member of the National Health Research Advisory Committee. She served as the Chairperson for the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) Board of Directors for ten years, is the current ANHB representative to NIHB, and Chairs the NIHB Medicare, Medicaid and Health Reform Advisory Committee. Ms. Smith serves on the Health Research Advisory Committee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State Territorial Local and Tribal Committee, the Indian Health Service National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Tribal Technical Advisory Group. She has also presided as the Chair of the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) Joint Operating Board, the Sergeant- at- Arms for ANTHC, the 3rd Chief of the Native Village of Dillingham (Curyung), and was a Tribal Judge.

In 1997, she was the recipient of the Alaska Federation of Natives Health Award and in 1998 she received the National Indian Health Board’s highest recognition, The Jake White Crow Award. In 2013, she received the Alaska Federation of Natives’ Shirley Demientieff Award, given by the Governor for advocacy on behalf of Alaska Native women and children.

In 2014 the Twenty-ninth Alaska State Legislature joined the Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation in honoring and recognizing H. Sally Smith for her visionary and generous contributions to the Alaska Native community and our healthcare partners.

It is with deep pride and honor that the American Society of Circumpolar Health bestows its 2015 Hildes medal on Ms. H. Sally Smith.