LCO hosts drug awareness forum; TGB to set up task force
Drugs taking the spirit out of our community, part 1 of a 3-part series
The LCO Comprehensive Community Services program held a drug awareness forum at the LCO Casino Event Center on Friday, November 3. The meeting was held shortly after a rash of overdoses in the community from heroin use, one of which claimed the life of a 40-year old LCO man who died in the caretaker home on the Al Capone’s Hideout property.
Several tribal members gave emotional testimony to the harmful effects drugs are having on the community.
“Drugs are taking the spirit out of our community,” said Theresa Moore, an EMS first responder on the LCO Reservation.
Moore said when you get that call at 3 am of a possible overdose, “You pray you will get there in time, and when you don’t, you see their faces for a long time.” She said when you are doing CPR on a young man, 27-years old, “You think, this could be my son.”
Moore said she is quite often asked why she does it. “Because if there can be just one to get up and breathe life the next morning, it’s worth it.”
Following the drug awareness forum, which was attended by council members Tweed Shuman and Don Carley, the tribal governing board at its Monday meeting, voted unanimously to organize a task force.
Carley told SawyerWire the week before that he was proposing to the council to set aside $100,000 from 3rd Party Billing funds from the clinic to assist with the drug problem.
“The money would be used for drug awareness, to battle the drug problem, and for people to get the services they need,” Carley said. “We need to educate the people by starting to reach them at the school age before they try it that first time.”
LCO Police Chief Tim DeBrot said the police are aware of the problem.
“We did a drug operation two years ago, around Honor the Earth powwow time, which led to a couple of arrests,” DeBrot said. “Those couple of arrests led to over 30 arrests. That investigation went on for a year and a half.”
DeBrot said his officers are dedicated to this drug problem. He said they appreciate information and although they may not act on it right away, it’s always stored on the back burner.
“We do use that information, but sometimes it just takes time,” DeBrot said. “These investigations take months. Don’t get frustrated, we’re doing our best and we are working on some things right now.”
DeBrot said to keep calling in your information.
Just days after the forum, a home was raided in the Six-Mile community on the reservation which resulted in three arrests for heroin and cocaine trafficking. That arrest was connected to the overdose at the Hideout the week before.
Don Carley said when the new tribal council was seated in July, they were led to believe the family living in the Hideout caretaker home were evicted. They were relatives of former Chairman Mic Isham.
Carley said after the recent overdose they were making sure they were out of the home and he said that chains would be put around the place.
It was reported by an LCO Behavioral Health Director, Jenny Ingram, at the drug awareness forum that the recent rash of overdoses at LCO were the result of heroin laced with the deadly drug, Fentanyl.
Ingram said you can overdose from Fentanyl, a horse tranquilizer, just by touching it.
“We need to spread the word and keep people informed,” Ingram said. “It’s mixed in the heroin circulating in the community and people don’t know it’s in there. You could get a little to feed your addiction and you could die.”
Ingram explained how Narcan, the opioid antidote can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, but that fentanyl is so strong that after 20 minutes, the patient will go back into an overdose, over and over again.
“That’s why it’s important to call 911 no matter what,” Ingram said. “People will think it’s okay because the Narcan worked, but it’s not okay.”
Ingram said heroin is a scary drug, “But, when you add fentanyl, it takes it to a whole other level.”
Tribal member Dayshelle Sharlow spoke at the drug awareness forum and said it scares her to know how much her 16-year old daughter knows about the drug problem in the community. Her daughter sat beside her.
Sharlow said we are far beyond awareness. “It’s already here and it affects all of us. What can we do to stop it now?”
A recent Facebook poll on a tribal page asked if the community would support the tribal governing board calling in the Feds to clean up the problem, similar to what was done in 2004 that resulted in 48 arrests. 118 persons voted in favor of it and only one said no.
Laurie Tainter posted on the poll, “I live in a close knit community where no one bothers us. In the past few years we have problems with people up here. Cops up here. We used to be able to leave our doors open. Not anymore. We keep our doors locked at all times now. We had to get a big dog also. We live on private property too. I get scared if my dog barks in the middle of the night. This happens quite often.”
“We need to work on getting them help. Drug addiction can come on from trauma that could have happened early in their life that has never been resolved,” said Alicia Wolfe-Cross. “I dont think locking them up is the best decision but sometimes I wonder, is this only way we will save their lives?”
Jan Lynn said, “I feel for the little ones being raised in meth houses. I've seen these neglected children. Dirty clothes and dirty faces and the parents dressed in expensive gang gear. Grandmothers and Aunties taking care of kids for weeks on end because the parent just drop them off’ while they party and deal. Sad legacy for our tribe.”
LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender said at the recent General Membership meeting that everyone needs to do more. “We are in a state of emergency. Who is going to stand up and do something? Look at your relatives and if they are sick, get them some help. Do something.”