May 31, 2021
Larry Curley has felt the destructive force of US government policy on Native Americans first-hand. A member of the Navajo Nation he lives with the legacy of dislocation and stripping of identity caused by the Removal Act of 1830 and the Assimilation Act of 1887. He has directly experienced the Termination Act of 1953 and Relocation Act of 1956 as blunt instruments of a federal power grab. As a young and fearless advocate in 1978, he drafted Title VI of the Older Americans Act, requiring federal funding for elders to be deployed to tribes instead of states. And to guarantee that elders were taken seriously by policy makers he founded and now leads the Native Indian Council on Aging. NICOA is a force to be reckoned with. During the pandemic, which stole 5000 Native lives, predominantly seniors, its leaders adapted by advocating through Zoom. They are now gearing up for an in-person conference to build a policy agenda focused on the physical, mental and spiritual needs of Native elders. It will be based in wisdom, respect and advanced by collective action. Next stop: Capitol Hill.