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‘Greatest Threat’ to tribal communities

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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SANTEE, Neb. (Dakota News Now) - Meth continues to move in incredible portions through each of our communities.

In 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported high quantity loads coming in daily across the U.S. – Mexico border. The drugs continue to get more potent, and pure. In fact, today’s Mexican methamphetamine, according to the DEA is deadlier, easier to access, and 71 percent cheaper than ever.

While none of our communities are immune from the epidemic, the Department of Justice reports that the drug continues to disproportionately devastate Native American communities. Mexican drug cartels purposefully target rural reservations, both for the sale of meth and distribution because of the complex nature of criminal jurisdiction on reservations, and because tribal police are typically underfunded and understaffed.

Shane Avery, a former professional team roper, tells us he kept clean of the drug growing up. But he was introduced to it years ago as, at a rodeo. Two years after his first taste, he was indicted for dealing. Sixteen years later, now, and back home on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Santee, Nebraska, Avery has started a prevention and recovery program aimed specifically at teens.

This past year, he and other addiction specialists along with the probation officer for the tribe, created a program they call, “Growing Stronger Together”. Avery this past year took 12 troubled teens, 3 horses, and put them to work together. His hope is that they will learn about trust, respect, and help give them a purpose in life.

“You’ve got to give them a purpose besides laying in bed playing video games. They’re here for a reason, the Creator has a plan for them and they’ve got to stay focused on that plan and have a purpose to get up every day,” Avery told Dakota News Now.

The kids involved, according to their probation officer, didn’t want the six-week program to end.

It’s been tough this summer to hold any group sessions with COVID-19. Avery, he tells us, has only been able to work with a couple of kids at a time. His hope ultimately though, is to take the lessons he knows can be taught through horses, and through his own personal experience, and share them with as many as possible throughout Indian Country.

For more on Shane Avery and the Growing Stronger Together program, click here and on the video above.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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