Veterans Voices

MHA Drug Enforcement agent reflects on time in the Army, fighting drug epidemic on Fort Berthold

Local News

“My grandma would always say – and it’s always been my motto – ‘tomorrow’s a new day, but you pray to get through today,'” said Dawn White, supervisory lead agent for the MHA Drug Enforcement Division.

White applies that to her work, but that saying dates back to how she grew up on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, in White Shield.

Raised by her grandparents, White’s professional timeline began right after she graduated high school.

“Every generation has had somebody going to the military,” she said, “in every branch.”

She wasted no time before she joined the Army. She said she always wanted to go.

She was stationed all over the U.S. and spent time abroad. She was sent to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor.

White says her time in Bosnia and in the Army, overall, was stressful.

At just 19 years old, she left home. During her eight years as an Army medic, she says she found her warrior spirit.

“I wanted to show them that I am meant to be here, even if I am a woman, I’m meant to be here,” she said.

Another place she’s meant to be is on the front lines of the fight against drugs on Fort Berthold.

MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox said, “The highest qualities that I speak of her is that A) she’s homegrown and she’s native.”

“It helps me, I think more than it ever hindered me,” White said, “to be a person on this reservation arresting our people. Because who wouldn’t know their people than somebody who grew up here?”

“The second thing that I think that is really a strong attribute is that she’s one of few women, active women, that are part of the force,” Chairman Fox added. “And then the third one that I have to say is probably her strongest attribute, is that she’s a veteran.”

“I think sometimes that’s all some people need, is just somebody to talk to,” White reflected about her experiences.

One of those people who needed someone like Dawn on their side is Telia Baker.

“I was a six-year heroin addict,” Baker said. “Being one of the arresting officers with federal drug charges, she was there. It could’ve been anyone else sitting there, [but] Creator placed Dawn there.”

After three years in prison, Baker returned home and expected to be judged. Instead, Dawn did the opposite.

She greeted her with a humble smile, Baker recalled.

Baker is close to eight years of sobriety and is the director at The Door resource and recovery center in New Town.

“It’s always right in the back of my mind, Dawn’s face,” she said.

Agent White’s job ranges from helping her people to tracking down large-scale drug-trafficking organizations.

“I tell a lot of people, you know, I can’t help everybody, but I can help one person at a time.”

She says she prays for the people she’s up against. “I push everyone to go to treatment. I don’t want them to be on the street, to live this life.”

That’s another thing she learned from her grandparents. They were direct, but kind, which is something she says she’d like to see more of.

Dawn White holds many titles, including Someone You Should Know.

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