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By Tim Leeds 

Feds fund Chippewa Cree drug court


November 21, 2016

A fledgling program started in the last year to help resolve substance abuse issues at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation has received a shot in the arm.

Jolin Sunchild, project coordinator for the Chippewa Cree Tribal Adult Healing to Wellness Program, said this morning that a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration could help the drug court move toward its goal of curbing substance abuse issues at the reservation.

“We hope we can make a difference,” she said.

SAMHSA announced last week it made a $318,725 grant to the Chippewa Cree program, along with a $134,418 grant to Montana Supreme Court for drug court programs.

Drug and DUI treatment courts, such as the ones implemented by the Hill County government in 2012, use a combination of rewards and punishments combined with close supervision and addiction counseling to try to address the underlying causes of misdemeanor drug- or alcohol-related crimes.

Sunchild said the Chippewa Cree program also uses traditional culture in its program, with its clients seeking out an elder or someone in the community with whom they feel comfortable to talk about the cultural side of their problems and how to fight them.

That is in addition to weekly drug testing — which is done randomly and participants could be tested five times in a week — regular meetings with members of the drug court and appearing before the judge and the rest of the court every week.

The program also works with the White Sky Hope Center rehabilitation program at the Rocky Boy clinic as well as the clinic itself to help deal with addiction issues and co-occurring problems along with the addictions, she said.

Sunchild said that each Thursday the judge generally visits for a short time with the participants about how their week is going as well as talking about any issues — good or bad — in that participant’s weekly report.

She said the program already has seen one graduate, and, so far, has had about a 50-50 rate of success. About a dozen people are enrolled in the program now, she said.

The crime with which a participant is charged must be a nonviolent offense and the participant must agree to work with and abide by the rules and decisions of the court.

The grant will help the people running the court to help its clients, she said. The court team has a good grasp on the direction the court is headed, and the participants generally want to work with it, she added.

“We give them the option to get help and get clean,” Sunchild said.


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