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Tribes of North Dakota Seek State Help to Fight Addiction

Treatment providers from four different American Indian tribes in North Dakota recently met with the state’s Department of Human Services to discuss various issues regarding addiction and its treatment. 


Bruce Gillette, who directs the Circle of Life treatment center for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes, explained why the meeting was important: “I would like to know and understand how the state can help us, as private providers, help our people. We’re in an epidemic with our adolescents. From seventh grade up, it’s a big problem” (De la Cretaz, 2017). Gillette also stated, “We’re all doing something, and it’s all good work, but we’re doing it in separate places and different directions. How do we come together and do this effectively?” (Emerson, 2017). 


A NIDA-funded Colorado State University study on American Indian students at “thirty-three schools on or near reservations in eleven US states” found that these youth were “beginning alcohol and drug use earlier than nonnative peers” (De la Cretaz, 2017). Miranda Kirk, cofounder of the Aaniih Nakoda Antidrug Movement in Montana, stated, “People are saying they’re seeing it as young as third grade, because, ‘Oh, that’s okay, I see that at home’ . . . So, they can’t see the error in it. Or they don’t see it as a risk” (De la Cretaz, 2017). 


The meeting between tribal treatment providers and the North Dakota Department of Human Services was focused on improving “communication between the state and tribes, as well as what state treatment and prevention funding programs are available to tribes” (Emerson, 2017). 


The represented North Dakota tribes identified opioids, methamphetamine, and heroin as their main concerns.





De la Cretaz, B. (2017). North Dakota tribes seek state help to fight addiction crisis. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/north-dakota-tribes-seek-state-help-fight-addiction-crisis
Emerson, B. (2017). North Dakota tribes ask state for help with drug addiction. The Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved from http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/north-dakota-tribes-ask-state-for-help-with-drug-addiction/article_a294f57f-acef-53e0-85dc-325352912371.html