Tag Archives: Meth

Pine Ridge Marchers Step Forward Against Meth


Kevin Woster reports: March 25, 2016 

Parents and tribal officials on the Pine Ridge Reservation are facing a worrisome surge in methamphetamine use among tribal youth.

Friday in Pine Ridge Village, family members of meth users and their supporters marched to the front of the meth fight, proclaiming a grassroots campaign to rid the reservation of the potentially deadly drug.

They began at noon in light rain and chill winds, marching from the hill where the old Indian Health Service Hospital used to stand and down U.S. Highway 18 into town.

Their goal is for tribal members, and in particular the young, to withstand the storm of methamphetamine use that has been sweeping across their reservation.

Nineteen-year-old Jerica Dreamer, a former user, brought hard personal experience to Friday’s march against meth.

“It’s a bad thing. It’s really bad,” she said. “It hurts you. And it makes your body feel real ugly and sick.”

Dreamer said her addicted sister was recently jailed for meth use. She said other friends and relatives have the same problem.

“A lot of people my age and younger are starting to do meth,” she said. “And it’s not OK. It’s not good. It’s poisoning our people.”

Dreamer’s mother, Julie Richards, leads the Mothers Against Meth Alliance on the reservation. Richards began working on the meth problem when she recognized that another daughter was a user. She also developed a Mothers Against Meth Alliance Facebook page, where she gets contacts from people seeking information on meth or help with meth problems and loved ones who are addicted.

Richards organized Friday’s march, which attracted Susan Shockey from the Red Shirt Community 55 miles away.

“I come to support Julie’s effort on our reservation,” she said. “We want to get the message out to the people, to the youth, that meth isn’t Lakota.”

The Lakota culture relies on spirituality, not chemicals, Shockey said. She hopes more public awareness and grassroots marches and rallies and education campaigns can prevent and help reduce meth use.

Marchers Friday said every step forward in an event like the march and rally takes them closer to their goal of ridding the reservation of meth. But they know also it’s a big job.

Babe Poor Bear said she has “a cousin who’s hooked on meth,” and a niece who is also addicted. The problem is immense, and has overwhelmed the government system, she said.

“We have a system that’s not working here,” she said. “We no longer can rely on the system that is not working. We’re now working collaboratively, from a grassroots effort, which is what’s going on here today.”

“We understand it’s a very difficult time for our leaders,” said Babe Poor Bear of Pine Ridge. “We understand it’s a difficult time for our families. They’re at a loss. Nobody knows what to do with this meth epidemic.”

But they know enough to organize and fight it, one step at a time.

Marchers said it’s important for tribal government, law enforcement and treatment programs to increase work against meth. But they said grassroots events and outreach will have the greatest impact.


Kehewin Cree First Nation Protests Growing Meth Abuse

Over 100 residents from Kehewin Cree Nation participated in a walk through Kehewin out to Highway 41 to raise awareness for meth abuse. Ameya Charnalia

Over 100 residents from Kehewin Cree Nation participated in a walk through Kehewin out to Highway 41 to raise awareness for meth abuse. Ameya Charnalia

By: AMEYA CHARNALIA | Bonnyville Nouvelle, Oct 06, 2015

Over 100 Kehewin Cree First Nation members took part in a walk to raise awareness about growing methamphetamine abuse in the community.

Terri Suntjens, who works at Kehewin Health Services, noticed a worrying trend when a number of her clients admitted to using meth recently. Kehewin Tribal Counselling Services, which provides one-on-one counselling and procures referrals to rehab and detox, also started receiving public complaints about a growing meth problem.

“There was a big outcry,” said Desire Ambie Jackson, a receptionist at KTCS. A meeting attended by tribal chiefs, community agencies and the Bonnyville RCMP was held in September to outline a plan to do something about the worrying news. A Drug Awareness Walk was planned for Oct. 2 and another community meeting with elders will be held on Oct. 7.

Jackson said the community is also preparing to conduct workshops in schools to highlight the meth issue and possibly conduct surveys to get an idea of addiction rates.

“Meth hurts,” she said. “It draws you away from family, from love.”

She added, “It affects the person individually and everyone in some way or the other is affected by it.”

People gathered at Kehewin Health Services Friday morning with signs and banners calling to kick the drug out of the community. The group swelled in size as Kehewin’s 1,000-plus community came out from houses and cars on the main road to join the crowd headed to Highway 41.

“We’re here to support the process of coming off the meth,” said Suntjens “We’re trying to spread the message that we don’t want it here.”

She added that layoffs in the oil and gas sector are also contributing to higher drug use across the Lakeland.

Benny Badger was recently elected to Kehewin Council. He emphasized the need to focus on healing and reconciliation.

“It’s everybody’s problem,” he explained. “We got to find a way to work together, to find a solution.”

Badger believes that people are speaking out through their addiction because they feel like they do not have anywhere else to go and very few people to turn to.

“We’re showing that we still care,” Badger said. “It’s not to push them away or to shame them, it’s about bringing them back and finding their gifts again.”

Badger also reached out to the RCMP to send a positive message that the community and the police can work together.

“Drug abuse is a growing concern on the Kehewin Cree Nation, specifically the abuse of meth,” said Sgt. Sarah Parke of the Bonnyville RCMP, who attended the walk. “The Bonnyville RCMP is committed to continuing their partnership with the Kehewin Cree Nation in an effort to continue to raise awareness and fight the war on drugs in their community.”

As the community begins the uphill task of combating drug abuse, the urgency remains clear. Many remain worried about the potentially ravaging effects of meth use. From contracting a life-threatening disease such as hepatitis or HIV through sharing needles to poverty to death even, the consequences are dire, noted Jackson.

Suntjens believes the drug awareness campaign will make a different, but shares the concern.

“It’s claiming a lot of our people.”