Posted: Jun 21, 2013 By: Eric Descheenie - Tribal Government Relations Director
Indian Wells, AZ —Recognizing the mounting threat of substance abuse, especially abuse of methamphetamine, the community of Indian Wells on the Navajo Nation took initiative in reaching out to friendly neighbors to help elevate awareness of this life threating epidemic. Their efforts culminated into the “Meth éí Dooda Awareness Day”, a community gathering celebrating healthy knowledge, company, and lifestyle, including a 5K Walk & Run. The event was held Friday, June 14, 2013 at the Indian Wells Elementary School Gymnasium.
According to the National Indian Country Methamphetamine Initiative, American Indian teens and young adults are two to three times more likely to abuse Crystal Meth and American Indians between the ages of 18 and 25 use Meth at a rate twice that of non-American Indians. Moreover, treatment for American Indians is twice that of the national average. American Indian and Alaskan Native populations show a 60 percent increase in treatment admissions for Meth abuse between 2001 and 2007.
Meth éí Dooda Awareness Day attendees ranging from grandchildren to grandparents were treated to a series of influential speakers assembled to draw community members’ attention to what methamphetamine is, its effects from abuse, and how it travels from community to community.
Participating speakers included a welcome message from Navajo County Chairman Jonathan Nez, invocation by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Elmer Begay, substance abuse presentation by Navajo Nation Dilkon Police, and performance by Miss Southwest Navajo – Alyson Jeri Shirley.
Chairman Nez observed, “I tip my hat to our Navajo Nation Police, County Sheriff Deputies, and behavioral health non-profits because they are on the front lines daily keeping our families safe or doing their best to shift the direction of victims for the better. I also want to thank Alberto Peshlakai, Indian Wells Chapter official, and Chevonne Todicheeney with Winslow Indian Health Care Center for spearheading this event.”
Keynote speaker Lyle Claw shared his personal experience with meth abuse and a moving story of how he overcame his addiction to meth. The day also included presentations from Ruth Begay with the Methamphetamine Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI), and Community Bridges Inc., a behavioral health non-profit aiming to curb substance abuse illness and assist victims in getting back on their feet.
The Meth éí Dooda Awareness Day concluded with heart-felt messages delivered from Navajo County Supervisor Jesse Thompson and Indian Wells Chapter President Alfred Clark.
Supervisor Jesse Thompson stated, “It is so important that we hold these types of events for our communities because the issue of substance abuse cannot be solved by one person or just a few. It requires a community effort where we all act together under one banner. This is a big step forward in making a difference for our loved ones and creating a healthier environment for future generations.”