Hopefully Washington will send the Yurok tribe recently allocated dollars for fighting on the reservation. The House Appropriations Committee late last week set aside $15 million for the problem - the first time money for targeting meth has been given to Indian Health Services. Another $35 million would help boost tribal law enforcement.
Meth is a significant problem on the Yurok reservation, after all. American Indians of Del Norte and Humboldt counties were treated 2,900 times in 2005 for meth-related ailments. Both counties placed No. 5 and No. 4, respectively, in the number of meth-related treatments. In addition, two in five of all tribal police calls on the reservation are influenced by meth in some way, according to Dave Parris, Yurok tribal police chief. Simply put, reducing meth means better health and less crime for tribal members.
Fighting meth on the reservation also will benefit surrounding communities. Meth dealers don't stop their sales at the reservation boundary. Nor do those addicted to meth who turn to crime to support their habit stop at that invisible wall. Further, many of the children whose parents are meth addicts attend public schools, distracting districts from focusing on instruction and instead dealing with a social and health issue.
The Yurok hardly are in a position to fight meth on its own. The tribe is poverty stricken, with many members still living without electricity. The tribe has no casino, and a recent $90 million settlement with the federal government soon could be tied up in the courts again.
Beating meth will require a multi-pronged approach. Dealers and producers have to be taken off the streets, a big task for law enforcement and the courts. Addicts must receive treatment to get them off their habit, a tall task for social services. Providing for the children of addicts and general prevention efforts also are required. None of this comes cheaply.
As the trafficking of meth and the fallout of its addiction crosses the reservation's borders and state lines, federal dollars make the most sense for funding these solutions. Hopefully the full Congress and the White House will recognize the full extent of meth's scourge and their responsibility in helping to end it.
Meth is a significant problem on the Yurok reservation
in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
Congress should allocate money to help tribal law
enforcement and health
services fight meth's scourge.
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