WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXNET)– It’s becoming clear that the fentanyl crisis will not be going away any time soon.
Now, our lawmakers are taking a stand to help our North Dakota communities with this crisis.
With 2 deaths each week from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and the highest percentage of those deaths coming from Native Americans, one of the most prevalent issues right now in North Dakota is the fentanyl crisis.
Senator Hoeven addressed this issue at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. To discuss the crisis, Senator Hoeven introduced Jamie Azure, the chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.
“Please note that all these drug shipments are from non-Indians delivering to our reservations,” said Azure. “We have also learned from our law enforcement efforts that these drug dealers often move into our HUD units with promises of wealth and drugs in our vulnerable populations. These individuals have significantly disrupted the lives of our children, resulting in foster parents, when the parents of the children are arrested.”
Azure says that BIA law enforcement has been shifting away resources from Turtle Mountain, including their chief of police, making Turtle Mountain members less safe.
He also noted that, although Senator Hoeven has passed legislation to helped with tribal law enforcement training, there is still much to be done.
“This committee needs to remember that we took a vow to sit in the chairs that we sit in, and the leadership roles that we have taken on, for that next generation,” said Azure. “We are very close to losing a generation to an opioid, to a synthetic drug. We need to figure out a way that we can work together to address a lot of these issues that are going to be brought up today, and a lot that we don’t have time to get into.”
Azure’s testimony was one of six from people representing tribes around the United States, from states such as Montana, Hawaii, and Washington.