(Washington, DC) – Partnering with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PFDA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is leading a new public awareness campaign aimed at targeting methamphetamine abuse among Native Americans. Combined, the coalition partners have contributed $300,000 in support of this groundbreaking effort for Indian Country, announced at a news conference today at the National Press Club.
“By creating an awareness of this lethal drug and educating people about its devastating effects – especially in Indian Country – we can prevent people from trying it even once,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “The announcement of this campaign, to which the Department of the Interior is contributing $100,000, is an appropriate and important way to mark National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.”
President Bush has proclaimed today as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.
Nationally, Native American (American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians) communities experience the highest rates of methamphetamine abuse among all other ethnicities.
“This new partnership will save lives,” said NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Johnson. “Thanks to these generous commitments, we can educate Indian Country on the deadly effects of methamphetamine use and begin turning the tide on its grip on our people. While Indian Country may have been hit the hardest by meth, we have to seize the opportunity to create innovative solutions.”
Before the forging of this coalition, there was no national anti-meth media campaign tailored to Indian Country. The initial phase of the campaign will include Indian Country specific radio and print ads. PDFA has created a number of anti-meth campaigns and, working with ONDCP has developed a number of anti-drug campaigns specifically targeting Native Americans.
“The Partnership is thrilled to participate in this much-needed, collaborative effort to address the meth crisis in Indian Country,” said Stephen J. Pasierb, President & CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “We have worked with parents and communities across the nation to help reduce demand for meth and prevent its spread—through this new prevention program created specifically to address the needs of Indian Country, we hope to help protect tribal communities from further devastation.”
Carole Lankford, Vice-Chairwoman of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes knows first-hand the devastation meth can cause in a community. In the last four years the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Social Services has placed more than 35 meth-affected children in the Tribal foster care system. The agency is experiencing tired, worn out caregivers who are now turning children back before the agency can even achieve permanency for these high need children.
“We are working diligently to overcome this problem and address the needs of our community,” said Lankford. “This type of campaign is sorely needed in Indian Country and we highly support systemic changes that increase the funding available to social services agencies and the Indian Health Service in dealing with the long term impacts of caring for drug affected children and families.”
The following details the contributions by coalition partners to the campaign announced today:
U.S. Department of the Interior -- $100,000 ($50,000 from Office of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs; $50,000 from Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Office of National Drug Control Policy -- $150,000
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- $50,000 (as a part of a larger HHS $1,000,000 Indian Country Methamphetamine Initiative)