WASHINGTON DC –
“Approximately 90 percent of individuals entering treatment programs at Turtle Mountain” Reservation in North Dakota are there because of methamphetamines, tribal judge Karrie Azure said in testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee here Wednesday.
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Vice Chairman of the Committee, invited Azure to the Capitol Hill hearing to testify on her experience coordinating the United Tribes Multi-Tribal Indian Drug and Alcohol Initiative, a federally funded program at United Tribes Technical College that encourages collaboration among tribes in fighting meth abuse. He said Azure’s testimony will help in the fight for more resources to combat meth use, production and distribution in rural America.
“Meth use and production has reached epidemic levels in many rural communities throughout the country, and American Indian reservations have not been spared,” Dorgan said. “This is a clear danger to our communities that we should spare no effort in addressing, and I will continue to push Congress to direct more resources to programs that both prevent people from using this drug and help those who have used it recover.”
Azure testified that more resources are needed to fight the effects of a drug that is ravaging tribal communities. While dealers travel from reservation to reservation and use juveniles to do their pushing, there are too few resources to address a lack of law enforcement, she said. Meanwhile, she said, there is a lack of bed space for new meth-related patients and treatment doesn’t last long enough, leading to a recovery rate of only 3 percent.
“As strongly stated already by tribal leaders and officials in addressing the methamphetamine problem, it is unrealistic for tribes to engage in a battle against substance abuse alone,” Azure said. “Developing partnerships with local, state and federal governments is necessary.”