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U.S. Senate Committee Meets To Discuss Opioids On Native American Lands


The spread of illegal drugs within the boundaries of tribal reservations was the topic of a recent U.S. Senate hearing in South Dakota.

Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota is Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

He convened a field oversight hearing titled "Joint Law Enforcement Efforts in Building Safe Tribal Communities and Stopping Dangerous Drugs from Entering Indian Country.”

The Majority Staff Director for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Mike Andrews, says the F.B.I, D.E.A. and the Bureau of Indian Affairs attended and the talked opioids..

"...The concern is with neighboring states getting impacted by opioid abuse, it was just a matter of time before North Dakota was going to feel the pinch. We wanted to make sure we were in line with the administration's position so when that epidemic does comes there will be enough resources to combat opioids on all fronts..."

Andrews says there was was one clear point...

"...I think the law enforcement(said) 'We can't arrest our way out of this'. There's just not enough resources. I thought the (agreement) was we need to start tackling(this) from an education perspective on a lot of different fronts...."

Andrews says more training is needed in the use of anti-overdose drug NARCAN.

Additionally, the Senator outlined Savanna’s Act, legislation named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind of the Spirit Lake Tribe. The legislation requires reporting on missing and murdered Native Americans and requires federal law enforcement consult with Indian tribes while developing national law enforcement guidelines.

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