11th Annual Community Wellness Summit Held at Red Lake

The Community Wellness Panel answered questions about tribal programs

Published March 20, 2017

Theme: “Coming together for the People”

“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.

RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – The Eleventh Annual Red Lake Community Wellness Summit (formerly Drug & Gang Summit) was held Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, March 8-10, 2017 at Seven Clans Casino Hotel & Events Center in Red Lake. The 2017 theme was “Coming Together for the People.” Community Members, Chemical Health and Mental Health Services, Public Safety personnel, School Personnel, and other programs and services, both on and off reservation, were among those attending. The event was free and open to the public with lunch provided each day.

The Summit turn-out was significant despite chilly and windy weather. With registration beginning at 8 am each day, over 200 registrants participated in a variety of learning opportunities from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm the first two days, and noon on Day Three. Participants came not only from Red Lake, but from Leech Lake, White Earth, Turtle Mountain, Bemidji, and other communities.

Each day featured a key-note speaker, special presentations, and/or with workshops. Subjects included narcotics and paraphernalia identification, drug identification, principles of wellness, suicide prevention, eating well, healthy babies, healthy relationships, Medicine Wheel teachings, and physical fitness. Booths representing programs from Chemical Health, Public Safety and other related services dotted the perimeter of the hotel lobby. A Recovery Support Group Meeting was held on the first night.

Day 1, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Summit began with an invocation by Obaashiing elder Murphy Thomas who also acted as emcee combined his hosting with teachings and humor. He then called on the Kingbird Singers to do two songs plus a song in tribute to women.

Thomas along with Chance Rush (Three Affiliated Tribes – Hidatsa) acted as summit facilitators. “This is your community, your home and your story,” said Rush to those assembled.

Rush then introduced Marilyn Mountain acting Director of Red Lake Chemical Health Programs. “We welcome you to the 11th Annual Community Wellness Summit, formerly the Drug and Gang Summit,” said Mountain. “We changed the name because we want to take a deeper look at a more cultural or holistic view of a person’s healing journey, so we’ve added other topics that pertain to people that are in need of any kind of healing. We want to look at all aspects of healing, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, the whole self.”

Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., welcomed the crowd

Next, Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., welcomed the attendees

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 his second language, English. He thanked the tribal council members and chiefs for the work they do. He then spoke of maji-mashkiki (bad medicine) speaking about the danger of drugs and suicide.

“No matter what color we all have to deal with it,” said Seki. “We must remember our kids and our kids not here yet. Thank you to law enforcement for all the battle they have fought. It’s not easy, it hurts our families, 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. “We should love one another.”

Key Note Speaker: Ron Kingbird on the “Three Principles to Wellness.”

Kingbird is a tribal behavioral health technician whose primary work is in the Red Lake Criminal Justice Complex where he conducts psycho educational seminars for inmates. He earned a BA in Indian Studies and a BS in criminal justice from BSU.

Kingbird, a certified trainer in the “Three Principles” has been sharing the approach for over 15 years. In his PowerPoint, “The Source of All Experience,” the focus is on how to achieve psychological and emotional well-being. “We make life happen, we have choice…and those choices have consequences…for the good or bad,” he said sometimes speaking in Ojibwemowin.

The Three Principles


“Mind” is defined as the “The energy and intelligence of all life, whether in form, or formless. The Universal Mind, or the impersonal mind, is constant and unchangeable. The personal mind is in a perpetual state of change.”


Consciousness is the gift of awareness. Consciousness allows the recognition of form, form being an expression of Thought.


The power of Thought is not self-created. Thought is a divine gift, which serves you immediately after you are born. Thought is the creative agent we use to direct us through life.

The fundamental premise of the theory is that life is spiritually generated into form from the formless, and that our experience as human beings is created from the interaction of the Three Principles; including the experience of self-identity.

“The Three Principles propose that feeling states (and all mental states) are self-created (through Thought), and that beyond each person’s limited, personal thought system lies a vast reservoir of wisdom, insight and spiritual intelligence. No one person has greater access to spiritual wisdom than any other,” says Kingbird. “Mental health is the resting state, or ‘default’ setting of the mind, which brings with it non-contingent feelings of love, compassion, resilience, creativity and unity; both with others and with life itself.”

Specifically, that for mental wellbeing, it is not important to process the past, nor that the content of peoples’ personal thought systems has to be “worked with” and analyzed. “The Three Principles emphasize kindness, sharing, caring, and the simple gift of love,” Kingbird said.

Awareness of the principles…mind, thought and consciousness…can lead to overall wellness. Many people make up stories about themselves through thinking, which then influences behaviors. “We’re all little creators creating life moment to moment via these three principles,” Kingbird said. “Everybody is doing it all the time, but not everyone is conscious of it, how they’re doing it…or as they’re creating it..realize that it’s coming from their own thinking.”

Afternoon: Presentations by Public Safety

Marilyn Mountain acting Director of Red Lake Chemical Health Programs

The afternoon of Day One feathered Red Lake Public Safety staff Kelly Brunelle and Ron Leyba, who work with the Red Lake Criminal Investigation Division. Brunelle has been with Public Safety 10 years, and Leyba seven. The pair used a PowerPoint presentation in their first session entitled Narcotics & Paraphernalia Identification.

Drug paraphernalia” is a term, to denote any equipment, product, accessory, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing drugs, typically for recreational purposes. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine are related to a wide range of paraphernalia. Paraphernalia generally falls into two categories: user-specific products and dealer-specific products.

Many images were projected on the screen of user-specific products including glass hashish pipes, crack cocaine pipes, smoking masks, hashish bongs, cocaine freebase kits, syringes, and roach clips. The presentation included many statistics. After a short break, the team of Brunelle and Leyba returned to expand upon Drug Identification.

In the evening at 7 pm, the Summit featured a Recovery Support Group Meeting at the Casino & Event Center.

Day 2, Thursday, March 9, 2017

Murphy Thomas opened day two with an invocation. Facilitator, Chance Rush warmed up the crowd with music and humor before introducing Salena Beasley, Chemical Health Project Director. She welcomed all those in attendance and went though the agenda for the day.

Keynote: by Kasey Nicholson, Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Nicholson is a member of the Ah-ah-nii-nin (White Clay Nation) of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana but currently resides in Billings. 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.

After a short break, Kailee Fretlund, Pharmacist at Red lake Comp Health spoke on those who are medical professionals and how medicines can assist in treatment.

Day 2 Afternoon Breakout Sessions

The Seven Clans Event Center was split into three rooms, Ogiishkimanisii (Kingfisher), Migizi (Eagle) and Awaazisii (Bullhead) for the afternoon breakout sessions beginning at 1 p.m. There would be three rounds of three sessions each.

The first round of sessions included a presentation on “Eating Well” by David Manuel in one room. In the next room was  “Medicine Wheel Teachings” presented by Vickie Fineday of Equay Wiigamig Women’s Shelter. The final session was entitled “Suicide Prevention” presented by Ayla Koob, Wellness Counselor and Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

The next round featured “First Steps to Healthy Babies and Substance Exposed Infants,” presented by Kari Josephson, APRN,CNP. In another room participants learned about “Healthy Relationships” as presented by Selma Lussier from Equay Wiigamig Women’s Shelter, and in room 3, Karen Norris-Barrett spoke of the “Chemical Health Programs” offered by the Red Lake Band.

The last round of sessions included; ”Asset Forfeiture” presented by Red Lake Criminal Investigators, Kelly Brunelle and Ron Leyba. The spoke of tribal laws that allow all things to be confiscated including cars for drug offenses, and trespassing.

In another room, Cheri Goodwin, Director of Red Lake Family and Children Services gave a quick review of the programs she and her staff offer.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Participants found themselves visiting with new friends while enjoying pastries and coffee before Thomas gave a short invocation and Rush warmed up the crowd.

The bulk of the morning would be a Community Wellness Panel that would provide information and answer questions from those in attendance with much information shared.

The panel consisted of Ayla Koob from Suicide Prevention, Darlene Lussier, Director at Equay Wiigamig, Cheri Goodwin, of Family & Children Services, Bill Burnelle and Dana Lyons from Law Enforcement, Karen Barrett from the Alcohol Rehabilitation Program, Matt Antone, President of the Red Lake Youth Council, and Kailee Fredlund, PharmD from Indian Health Services.

Thomas then asked participants to feel free to gather around the Kingbird Singers Drum for a Healing Ceremony explaining its purpose. After a healing song came a Traveling Song.




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