Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

12th Annual Community Wellness Summit Held at Red Lake

"Together We Can Make Change" is Theme

 

March 13, 2018

Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., welcomes the attendees

The Twelfth Annual Red Lake Community Wellness Summit (formerly Drug & Gang Summit) was held Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, March 7-9, 2018 at Seven Clans Casino Hotel & Events Center in Red Lake.

The 2018 theme was "Together We Can Make Change." 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 about as expected. With registration beginning at 8 am each day, scores of registrants participated in a variety of learning opportunities over the two and a half days. Events ran 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, Bemidji, and other communities.

Each day featured key-note speakers, special presentations, and/or workshops. Subjects included an emphasis on the opiate epidemic along with drug and paraphernalia identification, healthy relationships, cultural teachings, and Seboxin:" Treating Pain & Addiction. Related services and informational booths dotted the perimeter of the hotel lobby.

A Peer Support Group Meeting was held on the first night and a Round Dance on the second, both began at 7.

Day 1, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Summit began with an invocation by Obaashiing elder and pipe carrier Murphy Thomas who also acted as emcee. He combined his hosting with teachings and humor. After a welcoming, he called on the Little Bear Drum 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 Arlen Medicine interim Executive Director of Red Lake Chemical Health Programs. "We welcome you to the 12th Annual Community Wellness Summit, formerly the Drug and Gang Summit," said Medicine.

"Back in July the Tribal Council declared a Public Health Emergency as a direct result of the large scale drug trafficking and addiction of many tribal members to dangerous illegal drugs and powerful opiate drugs," said Medicine. "Band members and health officials gathered to address the crisis. This conference will focus on that opioid epidemic in addition to other issues of concern."

Medicine is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and has worked as a Rule 25 assessor for nearly two decades. "I've gained some knowledge and experience in this area over last five years," he said. "I hope to bring this experience to help us here on the reservation."

Medicine then introduced Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., who welcomed 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 on the reservation, particularly the opioid crisis.

Seki noted that much of the reservation programs are dealing with the opiate epidemic. "We must have respect for all people and all things. We need to work together to deal with drugs. We have a battle on our hands, but we can do it. We need to heal. We need education because incarceration does not work. We are not the only ones who suffer, other tribes and Bemidji suffers. We must work together. Together we can do it, politics should not be part of this issue, politics has no place in prevention."

"This is an illness that we can overcome by working together and stopping the drugs that are coming to destroy our families. 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.

Rush, who grew up in North Dakota, finished out the morning with a presentation entitled, "WARRIORS', Levels of Success." He set the pace for the conference by encouraging youth to pursue their dreams, to value education, and to share what they learn with others. "This is your community, your home and your story," said Rush to those assembled.

"As community leaders, we can encourage balance in others by being an example ourselves," Rush said. "Wellness is a gift that needs attention and commitment. We may hit bumps in the road, but we can accomplish anything we set our minds to by implementing our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional selves."

"Indian country needs to share its ancient knowledge," Rush said. "I don't care what tribe you're from. As a matter of fact, I don't care if you're tribal or not tribal. We all have to buy into discovering our gifts, and sharing them. If you are with us, if you see our World View, if you ceremony with us, if you pray with us, if you live with us, you are us."

"We have to buy into greatness on a community level, but also on an individual level," he said. "You have to buy into what you want to become, you have to believe in what you want to become...Where you buy into greatness is by knowing who you are."

"One thing I love about the Red Lake community is they're really welcoming and they want to be teachers. They want to teach the outside world about Ojibwe language, about Anishinaabe ways," said Chance.

After lunch motivational speaker Kasey Nicholson presented a PowerPoint teaching entitled "Rezolution of Self, A Boxed Mentality." He displayed his humor throughout the presentation. He spoke of cultural identity issues, educational endeavors, spiritual awareness, cultural understanding, substance abuse awareness, traditional vs westernized issues and other issues that face Indian Country today.

Nicholson, Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor 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.

The second and final Keynote speech of the day was by Tyler "T.J." Rush, whose presentation was entitled, "Healthy lives."

Tyler Rush is Chief Services officer FirstNation Health Muskogee Creek Nation. She is a longtime native advocate. She tackles issues such as healthy living, wellness, parenting, and healthy relationships. She lives in Tulsa with husband Chance and three children. She's a member of Board of Trustees of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY). She has a BS and MS in Education.

Day 2, Thursday, March 8, 2018

Murphy Thomas opened day two with an invocation. Facilitator, Chance Rush warmed up the crowd with energy and humor before introducing Arlen Medicine Interim Chemical Health Program Director. He welcomed all those in attendance and went though the agenda for the day.

Morning Presentations, which several participants described as "powerful" were provided by Public Safety Personnel. First up was Kelly Brunelle, Red Lake Criminal Investigation Division. Brunelle has been with Public Safety for more than ten years.

Brunelle was followed by Jeffrey Harford, Resident Agent In Charge from Fargo DEA, who gave a talk and PowerPoint presentation on "Opioids & Related Drugs."

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 workshops set to take place Thursday afternoon aimed to address efforts made by the tribe to curb the opioid crisis. Other sessions included, Healthy Relationships, Relying on Positivity, Lake-related Ceremonies and Traditions, and three hour-long sessions on Medication Assisted Treatment.

Kasey Nicholson and Jeffrey Harford reprised their earlier Keynote sessions by providing a deeper look at the issues discussed. Nicholson spoke on "Relying on Positivity," and Harford spoke on "Opioids & Related Drugs."

Tom Cain, Tribal Executive Director, presented "3 on 3: Collaborating with our Community." Cain spoke of a group of tribal employees representing various Programs and Agencies who have been working together to address drug epidemic issues; they are known as the Three Day Response Team. The sole purpose for the team and meetings are to bring programs together to provide a unified and effective response to the drug epidemic. The team members work together addressing program concerns; identifying needs and sharing of resources and resource information.

Lead Nurse Mamie Bender, did three workshops entitled, "Seboxin"(Buprenorphine) Treating Pain & Addiction." Bender works for Red Lake Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS), an outpatient clinic specializing in person-centered treatment of opioid dependency using medically administrated suboxone /Subutex. She uses cultural approaches when available, with a priority given to elders, pregnant women, and iV users. For more information, call 218-679-1199.

In another room participants learned about "Healthy Relationships." The session's speakers were married couple Chance and Tyler Rush. The Rush's travel all over the United States to work with different tribes.

"You want to have a structure because I believe that everybody in this world has to have a support system," said Chance Rush. "How do you identity if this is just a situation of having arguments? Can we work through this? How do we work through this? Or am I in something that is really unhealthy?" said Tyler Rush.

Murphy Thomas presented a session on "Ceremonies and Traditions with our Lakes." Thomas is a pipe carrier. He didn't ask for it, he said, "It just kept coming back." He spoke of the Sweat Lodge Ceremony. "The sweat is like going into the mothers womb, it's for purification, the ceremonies are for life."

"Gifts are given to the sprit of the lake," said Thomas, "usually in the Springtime but sometimes also in the Fall." He told about living in Battle River and sacrifices of clothing and foods that his family placed on small rafts made up for the entire family. He pointed out that ceremonies may be different for different families. "It may be a different version, but it means the same thing."

Friday, March 9, 2018

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

Cheri Goodwin, director of Red Lake Family & Children Services presented the keynote Friday morning entitled Processing in the Program. She was upbeat and energetic as she spoke about the services and plans for the future that her team works on daily. She explained that one exciting thing they've been working on is in regard to child placement. "We plan to go directly to state to relieve Beltrami County taxpayers of that responsibility and we hope to take it straight to the feds, because ultimately according to treaty, it is their responsibility, not the county taxpayers."

The rest of the morning featured a Community Wellness Panel that would provide information and answer questions from those in attendance. Much information was shared. At first, there was a lot of talk about the opioid crisis and how to address it, then the conversation shifted into fostering relationships and how to make the community stronger.

The panel consisted of Cheri Goodwin, Family & Children Services, Bill Burnelle Law Enforcement, Mamie Bender, M.A.R.R.S/Seboxin Program, Murphy Thomas, First Speaker, elder and pipe carrier, and guest presenters Chance Rush, T.J. Rush, and Kasey Nicholson.

Nicholson asked the young people; "Do you know Jay Z or Beyonce? Or do you know your culture and language, because that is who you are. Take what you have learned here and bring it back to your community."

Thomas spoke last, "I have a gift of gab," he said with a wry smile, "we all have our gifts, we must use them and share them for the betterment of the community. Remember, nature is cheaper than therapy."

Nearing noon, drawings for prizes closed out the three day summit. Participants had received tickets for filling out session evaluations.

Thomas then asked participants to feel free to gather round the Little Bear Drum for a Healing Ceremony explaining its purpose. After the healing song came a Traveling Song and the end of the 12th Annual Summit.

"Circle and stand near the drum for your family, friends, and relatives, for those who suffer, who are having a hard time. Pray that they will heal, here in this place. To live right, we form a circle and we all become one. When you create that circle you are connecting, connecting to all our relatives around the world. Call on our spirits to protect ourselves." ~Larry Stillday, (Obaashiing) 8th Annual Drug and Gang Summit

Afterword

Culture is Prevention and Tradition is Treatment.

"According to the 2011 Adult Health Survey, a majority of the tribe's four districts agreed that culture helps them stay sober. Sixty-nine percent of 2012 Community Readiness Survey respondents, indicated that they agreed/strongly that commitment to cultural heritage can prevent substance abuse problems." ~Red Lake Chemical Health

Mission of the Red Lake Community Wellness Summit

The mission of the Red Lake Community Wellness Summit is to educate and mobilize tribal agencies, professionals, schools and community members in a variety of efforts opposed to illegal drugs on the Red Lake Reservation. The goal of the summit is to produce committees that will advise communities on how to effectively address issues of crime, drugs and violence while working closely with district representatives and the Red Lake Tribal Council.

The impetus for the event began at a special Tribal Council meeting in September 2006. At that time it was announced that the Tribal Chairman was calling for a summit on Methamphetamine/crack cocaine to be held. Red Lake Chemical Health Programs among others were instructed to head the summit.

Chance Rush (Three Affiliated Tribes – Hidatsa) acted as summit facilitator

The Mission of the Red Lake Chemical Health Programs is to enhance the well-being of all Red Lake Tribal Band Members through alcohol and drug abuse prevention, education, intervention, and treatment. All programs are based on Anishinaabe culture and philosophy to strengthen the hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits, of Red Lake Reservation members, families, and communities.

"When we break one heart, we break them all, as they are interconnected. If you don't have balance, you are part of the problem, because it's an interconnected system. Health is more than the absence of disease, it is a state of optimal well-being. We are doing as our ancestors did. The people were asked, and then all came together and pooled their wisdom." - GichiMaiingan (Big Wolf) ROAD TO PONEMAH: The Teachings of Larry Stillday

 

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