“The dynamics of oppression on a culture, and the dynamics of alcoholism in the family, resemble each other so much as to be indistinguishable from each other when viewed through Indian eyes,” ~Dr. Cecil White Hat, (Lakota Sioux) 8th Annual Drug and Gang Summit.
Published February 16, 2016
RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION — The Tenth Annual Red Lake Drug and Gang Summit was held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, February 10-12, 2016 at Red Lake Seven Clans Casino, Hotel and Events Center. The 2016 theme was “Coming Together for the People.” Chemical Health and Mental Health Services, Public Safety personnel, School Personnel, Community Members, and other programs and services, were among those attending. The event was free with lunch provided.
The Summit turnout was large despite colder weather. Nearly 300 registrants attended workshops and presentations from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM the first two days, and a wrap-up until noon on Day Three. Participants came not only from Red Lake, but also from Leech Lake, White Earth, Bemidji, and other communities.
Each morning featured a keynote speaker, with workshops in the afternoon. Subjects included drugs, gangs, suicide, healthy babies, meth and heroine prevention, domestic abuse & developing safety plans, Medicine Wheel teachings, and healing. Booths representing programs from Chemical Health, Public Safety and other related services dotted the perimeter of the hotel lobby. A Round Dance was held on the second night sponsored by Indian and Free Drug Program.
Day 1, Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The Summit began with an invocation by Murphy Thomas. Thomas who also acted an emcee combines his hosting with teachings and humor. “In our history we would tell Aadizookaanan (sacred stories) when there was snow on the ground, there were always morals to the story,” he said. He then called on the Drum to do two songs.
Thomas then introduced Tom Barrett, Director of Red Lake Chemical Health Programs. “We welcome you to the 10th Annual Drug and Gang Summit. This year’s theme is titled ‘Coming Together for the People.’ Your participation can change the course of our lives by taking a stand against drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence in our communities,” said Barrett. “Our mission is to educate tribal agencies, professionals, schools and community members in the efforts on the effects of drugs, gangs, violence, and crime and to live a healthy lifestyle in our communities.”
Next, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., welcomed the attendees noting as he introduced members of the Tribal Council in attendance that the Summit has the full support of the Council. “The council supports these efforts,” he said, “we are all experiencing the issues raised here in some way.”
Seki, as is his manner first spoke in Ojibwemowin. “Ozaawi Naabesim indizhinikaaz, Migizi indoodem, Obaashiing indoonjibaa,” he said introducing himself, his clan and where he was from. He then followed up in English. He thanked the tribal council members and chiefs in the audience for the work they do. Then he spoke of maji-mashkiki (bad medicine). He spoke about the danger of drugs, suicide, bullying and gangs. “No matter what color we all have to deal with it,” he said. “We must remember our kids and our kids not here yet. Thank you to law enforcement for all the battle they have fought.” He cited some statistics saying that law enforcement confiscated $400,000 worth of drugs in 2015. “It’s not easy, it hurts our families, and our children are taken away to foster homes.” Seki closed by thanking the team from Chemical Health programs for organizing the summit and the good work they do.
Keynote: by Kasey Nicholson, Licensed Addiction Counselor, Sisseton Dakota
Nicholson is a member of the Ah-ah-nii-nin (White Clay Nation) of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana. He is a self-employed motivational speaker, presenter, entertainer, comedian and life coach. He displayed his humor throughout the presentation and even took some time to play the flute. He spoke of cultural identity issues, educational endeavors, spiritual awareness, cultural understanding, substance abuse awareness, suicide prevention, bullying, traditional vs. westernized issues and other issues that face Native America today.
Guest speakers on suicide and how it affects the family. Jerald Cobenais, of the Red Lake Youth Council told a very emotional story about his experience with friends who have killed themselves, as well as a very sad personal story of bulling, and the tragic loss of his best friend during the Red Lake Tragedy.
Reuben Crowfeather followed Cobenais telling how ceremony contributed to his healing. Michael Peters also spoke of the pain of suicide of friends.
Murphy, needing to take up a few minutes while waiting for lunch, told the story about Makwa and Wabooz, (Bear and Rabbit) much to the amusement of those present.
Day 1 Afternoon Breakout Sessions
The Seven Clans Event Center was turned into three rooms (Kingfisher, Eagle and Bullhead) for the breakout sessions at 1 p.m.
The first round of sessions included a presentation by Kellie Monson, Allie Bruning & Jeannie Donnell entitled “First Steps to Healthy Babies,” “Civil Commitment & CHP Resources” presented by Tom Barrett & Jenny Hollis, and Meth and Heroin Prevention with David Parnell.
Frequent contributor at the Summit is David Parnell, a public speaker, author, consultant, and advocate for drug-endangered children. The dangers of methamphetamine and how to combat the drug and recovery options are his major emphasis.
Those assembled heard a presentation of vivid and sobering words. Parnell illustrated, from a personal perspective, and in a stark manner, a session on methamphetamine and heroine prevention.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant, which severely affects the brain. Under its influence, Parnell even attempted suicide by shooting himself. He shot himself under the chin with an SKS assault rifle, blowing his face apart. Though he survived, he sustained severe injuries.
The next group included a session on “Suicide Prevention & Grieving” with presenters: Michael Peters, Jerald Cobenais & Reuben Crowfeather. Chemical Health Programs presenters Larry Van Wert and Floyd Jourdain on “Recovery Coach/Peer Support” presented another.
The last round of sessions included; “Gang Prevention with Reuben Crowfeather, Medicine Wheel with Eliza Lussier & James Cloud, and Equay Wiigamig with a workshop on “Domestic Abuse & Developing Safety Plans.”
Day 2, Thursday, February 11, 2015
Murphy Thomas opened day two with an invocation then introduced Salena Beasley, Chemical Health Project Director who welcomed the crowd.
At 10 a.m. Key Note Speaker: Senator Jonathan Windy Boy, State of Montana, Chippewa/Cree
Windy Boy is Involved with child trauma caused by domestic violence. He conducts workshops in drug and alcohol prevention activities, and gang awareness activities, as well as youth and community empowerment. He believes that in order to address the health and well being of the individual all aspects of the human being need to be addresses.
“Mainstream America addresses the mental, emotional, and physical health,” said Windy Boy, “but there is one aspect of being that is not addressed and that is spiritual health which is lacking in a failed system not addressing all issues affecting Indian Country.”
Day 2 Afternoon Breakout Sessions
Kacey Nicholson presented “Substance Abuse in Indian Country”, Kari Josefson, and Tom Barrett presented Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) & Jenny Hollis presented a workshop on “Civil Commitment & CHP Resources Presenters.”
In the second workshops, Reuben Crowfeather presented “Gang Prevention,” and Hep C, HIV & Nalaxon Program was presented by Cynthia Gunderson, and Ellie Moran.
Another frequent presenter at the summit is Dr. Rosemary Whiteshield who spoke on “Native Centered Healing Approaches to Trauma and Traumatic Grief.”
White Shield has a stellar resume. She is the Director of Evaluation for the Office of Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota. She is the former director of Nokomis Endaad Shki Bimaadzi Miikana (Grandmother’s House-Road to New Life) Mental Illness/Chemical Dependency (MI/CD) Outpatient Treatment Program in Minneapolis. She is also President-elect of the Minnesota Evaluation Association.
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