The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bad River tribe issues heroin, opiate emergency


November 8, 2017

ODANAH, Wis. — The Bad River Tribal Council has declared a public health emergency because of the heroin and opiate problem on the Bad River Reservation.

The tribal council, on a 4-0 vote, last week declared the public health emergency to address the drug problem and is seeking outside assistance to address what id calls a “life-threatening issue.”

Chairperson Robert Blanchard said the decision to designate a state of emergency is a positive step in the battle to address the growing problem of drug addiction.  

“Our communities need the resources necessary to address drug addiction. The tribal leaders’ communication and designating state of emergency will help make that possible,” Blanchard said.

Tribal leaders from Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, Lac du Flambeau and Bad River have agreed to work together in fighting the drug epidemic and call on federal agencies to provide adequate funding and affordable treatment options.

“Evidence of this problem and the impact this is having on our communities can be found in the methamphetamine policy that Bad River Housing staff has had to implement to address meth use and manufacturing,” said Executive Director Robert Houle.

Houle said as a result, the housing authority has had to serve eviction notices to several tenants because of court records which clearly identified them as not being in compliance with the tribe’s meth policy. 

“Subsequent testing of these homes resulted in the positive testing for meth, which then creates a serious health issue until these homes are remediated, and a serious cost for housing staff (using protective equipment and proper training) remediating the homes and making them safe to reoccupy,” said Houle.

“This process not only costs housing extra unplanned dollars (thousands of dollars per home) for this remediation clean-up, but results in families who are displaced and the impact this has on children and elders is especially difficult to grasp he said.


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