Tim MacDonald Havre Daily News email@example.com
Like much of rural America, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is facing a crisis with the drug methamphetamine, and they are intent on changing this situation. “Some time back, a group from the Chippewa Cree Tribe attended a seminar in Billings. They came back with some pretty alarming news,” state representative and tribal business committee member Jonathan Windy Boy said. “Rocky Boy was way up there as far as drug use, and on top of that, 40 percent of the women in women’s treatment centers (in the state) were Native American, and of that 80 percent were meth related.” The tribe formed a task force and they decided to confront the issue with a unique approach. “We could see that incarceration wasn’t working, what we needed was some kind of system to make it easier for the drug user to make a smoother transition from the institution to the home,” Windy Boy said. “We needed to deal with the mental health of the user, as well as the physical and emotional health and something that seems to be missing from most peoples lives, the spiritual well being. We decided to do this through our traditional culture and spirituality,” he said. Sam Vernon Windy Boy, a cultural researcher with the tribe’s Stone Child College had had experience working with cultural programs to solve substance abuse problems. “I worked on a similar project at Alkali Lake in British Columbia. We were able to turn around a situation where there was 99 percent of the population involved in alcohol abuse to the point where the community was about 99 percent alcohol free within a decade,” Sam Vernon Windy Boy said. “To try and simplify the way it works say a 15-year-old boy, for example is having drugrelated problems with the law. He would go before tribal court,And instead of spending time in detention, he would go before the elders and they would recommend that he spend so much time on cultural related endeavors,” Jonathan Windy Boy said. “The parents would be responsible to see to it that he follow through.” Most of what is needed to confront the drug abuse problem already exists on the reservation, and, according to Jonathan Windy Boy, they are all sympathetic to the cultural solution to the problem. “We have the support of all of the services on the reservation: law enforcement; judicial services; health service; and education. We have good mental health care through the health services, but it is the cultural aspects that will help with the emotional needs of the drug user.” Sam Vernon Windy Boy said. Federal money is available through several sources involved in the nationwide battle against meth and substance abuse, but the tribe has begun the fight without any special funding. “Like I said, we have most of the things we need already in place, and we are developing a plan to utilize them. We have what the government is looking for in such a situation, sustainability and community involvement. So I am confident we are going to get some help. We have worked up a plan and are going to hand carry it to Washington,” Jonathan Windy Boy said.