Tribal officials pledge action against methLAKE ANDES — Yankton Sioux tribal officials publicly stated this week they plan to take action to combat methamphetamine use in their community.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
LAKE ANDES — Yankton Sioux tribal officials publicly stated this week they plan to take action to combat methamphetamine use in their community.
In an article by Ella Stone appearing on the front page of the Wednesday edition of the Lake Andes Wave, the tribe’s vice chairwoman, Ida Ashes, said the tribe is looking for ways to streamline the process of hiring a drug-enforcement officer, which can currently take up to eight months because of the background checks involved.
The tribe received a $157,000 federal grant in 2010 to hire a drug-enforcement officer, but the funds have yet to be used.
“We as a committee realize the need to address the meth problem in our communities and are committed to seeking a solution,” Ashes said. “The tribe is taking steps to remedy the pragmatic issues of the grants and implementation.”
Awareness of meth use in the Lake Andes and Wagner area has been heightened following a pair of meth-related incidents. In July, a 2-year-old girl, Rielee Lovell, died in a tribal housing project in rural Wagner while in the care of two adults, Taylor Cournoyer, 21, and Laurie Cournoyer, 28, who were allegedly using meth and other drugs. Then, earlier this month, Wagner Police Chief Jim Chaney was arrested for allegedly covering up his girlfriend’s meth use by hiding her needles at the Wagner Police Department.
Tribal officials also announced they plan to convene a “Child Death Review Panel” to help them understand the circumstances of Rielee’s death and to develop ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The tribe is also seeking to join the Safe Trails Drug Task Force, a drug enforcement group that combines federal, state and tribal resources.
Activists planned to hold a smudging event and prayer vigil at the school in Wagner Sunday, according to Francis Zephier.