Guest Opinion. Opioid addiction has taken a terrible toll on the Cherokee Nation. Once again, Native Americans have been especially targeted by people and companies making profits from addictive substances without fully revealing the dangers.

The result has been lost lives and broken families. But as a tribal nation, we are fighting back. We won a court settlement to hold the opioid industry accountable, and we are using those funds to look out for their victims. With a strategic approach to reduce the harm of opioids and other stimulants, and give people an easier path to recovery, we are entering a new era of hope and healing.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Cherokee Nation opened our first permanent harm reduction program in Tahlequah early this year. The facility provides sterile syringes, wound care supplies, Naloxone, recovery support and other life-saving resources to provide immediate help to those most in need. It is accessible to both tribal and non-tribal citizens, ages 18 and over, and it has already successfully served almost 500 people. Now, our latest effort is a Harm Reduction Mobile Van, which will extend a helping hand across our 7,000-square-mile reservation.

The mission remains urgent. We see this in the alarming rates of Hepatitis C and opioid overdoses in northeast Oklahoma. Over 30 years of research shows that harm reduction programs do not encourage illegal drug use or increase crime; instead, they significantly reduce overdose deaths and prevent the spread of viral hepatitis and HIV.

These efforts are already making a difference, and they are just the beginning. Through the Public Health and Wellness Act, Cherokee Nation is making a $100 million investment in battling addiction.

With this funding from our opioid industry settlement, we are bolstering our behavioral health programs and constructing treatment facilities across the reservation, including a world-class facility in our capital city. We are also investing in the health care workforce with a $5 million permanent endowment. This fall the first students receiving full ride scholarships to become behavioral professional will start classes and, after graduating, they will come work in our behavioral health programs.

Cherokee Nation’s programs are both innovative and compassionate. Along with Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and the Council of the Cherokee Nation, I am determined to provide the quality care that our communities deserve. We will protect the most vulnerable and lift them up through holistic recovery.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.

The Public Health and Wellness Act, along with the new Harm Reduction Mobile Van, are examples of our tribe's resolve to uplift wellness for all of our people. We have a real opportunity to help people regain control of their lives and shape a fresh reality. As we embrace a new century of Cherokee goodness, we are shaping a healthier, more resilient Cherokee Nation. These transformative changes will ripple through our communities and Cherokee families for years to come.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

More Stories Like This

Federal Government Shutdowns are Bad for Indian Country and Entire Country
The Cherokee Phoenix Newspaper and Transparency in Government
Experiences of an At-large Cherokee Nation Citizen
CALL TO ACTION: Call Members of Congress to Support Special Diabetes Program for Indians Expires Sept. 30
Engaging the Federal Government to Meet Its Promises

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Chuck Hoskin JrEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.