Vizenor letter - White Earth has problems, but it's dealing with them
In the wake of a news article done recently regarding drug abuse and crime on the White Earth Nation we are encouraged to hear the reporting agency has agreed to return for follow up segments on information they may not have had time to include in their original report.
Prior to their follow up we wish to reach out to many of our citizens who have spoken out positively against some of the comments within the news piece, and shared many stories of what "rez life" is to them -- certainly not living in constant fear!
We commend the individuals stepping up and speaking out and we vow to continue to work with you in healing our communities.
Our strength as a people is embedded in our culture and traditions and these teachings show through each day via gatherings and culturally related events too numerous to mention.
The programs and services made available through the tribal government to serve and protect those that are in need of help also reflect the culture: Substance Abuse, Mental Health, DOVE (Domestic Violence) Law Enforcement, Oshki Manidoo (youth residential treatment center) and Circle Back Center (youth continuum of care protections) are just a few of the programs dedicated to our tribal nation today and to future generations.
White Earth Nation has publicly acknowledged the substance abuse epidemic that we are experiencing through a Declaration of a Public Health Emergency with Respect to Prescription Medication and Illegal Drug Abuse and has implemented both long-term and short-term strategies to combat the situation.
We stand behind our public safety director and chief of police and recognize that no single individual is responsible for the situation, nor capable of implementing the solutions.
Through collaborative working relationships, our Public Safety Department has strong credibility and an extensive working relationship with the counties, state and federal agencies and is working to stay on top of the continuously evolving drug issues that not only White Earth faces, but that are shared by most communities across the state and country.
Last Wednesday, White Earth leadership participated in a tabletop exercise facilitated by Strategic Applications International (SAI) working towards advancing the implementation plan that has been put in place.
Although it is not enough, we were encouraged to hear that White Earth is currently doing more than the other 46 tribes that SAI is currently working with on many of these same issues.
Through our zero tolerance policies, White Earth Nation and the Shooting Star Casino have established a safe, drug-free work environment for our employees to work in and our visiting guests to enjoy, and we promise our citizens we will continue to stand up and fight for positive change in our communities. -- Erma J. Vizenor, White Earth Nation chairwoman