Gerald Ignace was born and raised on the Coeur d’Alene Indian reservation in northern Idaho, growing up family and community played important roles in fostering who he would become.
In 1973 Gerald Ignace, with the help of his peers and $60,000 in seed money from the Urban Indian Health Fund, he established the Milwaukee Indian Health Clinic. For 10 years, Gerald Ignace served as the Chairman of the Milwaukee Indian Health board. Ignace later joined the Association of American Indian Physicians.
“Our main goal was to promote health interests in all of Indian country and to help develop Indian students that were interested in health professions,” Ignace said.
For over half of a century, Dr. Gerald Ignace has played a significant role in advocating for the health and wellness of Indigenous people across the nation.
The Milwaukee Indian Health Clinic eventually moved and was renamed as The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center. Today the clinic is a multimillion-dollar facility offering both health and traditional and cultural services to Native and non-Native people.
On Apr. 12 at the annual Red Shawl Gala hosted by Pottawatomi Hotel and Casino, Dr. Gerald Ignace received recognition for his work and achievements in health care. The gala raises funds for The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center and the different services offered.
“This is year number 14,” Ignace said.
The gala allows for tribal groups, whether it’s the Menominee, Pottawatomi, Ho-Chunk, Anishinaabe, Oneida, or whoever is willing to share input, to build communication and links to help promote health and wellness for Indigenous people. Attendees participated in an auction where various items donated to the Red Shawl Gala were bid on. The Ho-Chunk Nation was a sponsor of the event and Ho-Chunk Nation tribal members from the Milwaukee area were present to share the evening.
Dr. Gerald Ignace was honored with a blanket and a plaque commemorating his involvement in health care.
“I believe in communities for Indian people,” Ignace said. “Knowing your relatives, knowing your cousins, knowing your uncles and aunts, interacting with them was a very prominent part of the things that I grew up with, and to be recognized by the community here in Milwaukee is a great honor,” Ignace said.