Red Lake Band Declares Public Health Emergency, Adopts Banishment Over Drug Epidemic
The Red Lake Tribal Council has declared a Public Health Emergency on the reservation due to the large-scale trafficking and addiction of illegal drugs. Within a resolution passed by council members, the band will now allow banishment of tribal members and exclusion of non-tribal members in “appropriate circumstances.”
During a tribal council meeting on July 11, Chairman Darrell Seki Sr. expressed concern over a rash of opiod overdoses, addictions and dealings of dangerous drugs within the reservation, according to a press release.
The council drafted an emergency resolution, which said there was “massive abuse by tribal members of prescription drugs and other illegal drugs, particularly heroin.” It went on to claim that pharmaceutical companies bear a large part of the responsibility by encouraging doctors to prescribe powerful opiates.
It also said that the tribe had seen a breakdown in family networks, child neglect and abandonment, along with a disproportionate criminal incarcerations of tribal members due to their addictions.
As outlined within the the document, the council said that decisions such as banishment would be taken to “effectively remove the supplies of illegal substances which have caused the present emergency.”
A motion to approve the declaration was made by Representative Robert Smith and seconded by Representative Roman Stately. The resolution was unanimously approved by the eight members of the council who were present. Two members were not at the meeting.
The document will be forwarded on to multiple federal and state agencies to ask for assistance during the crisis.
Community and tribal program members have been directed to evaluate the effectiveness of the emergency status at the beginning of 2018.