- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock has appointed a Helena woman to lead the state’s new Office of American Indian Health.

Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote is being asked to work with tribal governments and urban Indian centers to identify the reasons that the average lifespan of American Indians in Montana is 20 years shorter than non-Indians, and to develop strategies to address those reasons.

Officials say American Indians are significantly more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory illness.

Billy-Old Coyote also will help identify existing state resources that may assist tribes in improving the health of their members.

Billy-Old Coyote has over 20 years of experience working with American Indian health programs. She also has worked for New West Medicare Health Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.

She will start her new job on April 11.

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