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Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe takes on meth

The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk, Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

A sign on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

CRST votes to banish meth dealers
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

EAGLE BUTTE –– The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, like many reservations on the Northern Plains, has been plagued by an epidemic of meth addiction and members believe there is a direct correlation between increased meth use and an increase in violent crimes.

In an effort to take control of the meth epidemic, and perhaps curb the violence, the tribe voted last week to banish drug traffickers, who they believe are the root cause of the problem.

A press release last week from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s office stated that CRST council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to dis-enroll and banish for life anyone convicted of dealing, making or trafficking methamphetamine and other controlled substances on the reservation.

“Any individuals 18 years of age or older who is convicted in Tribal, State, or Federal Courts after the date of the enactment of this resolution for dealing, distributing, manufacturing or trafficking methamphetamines and/or any narcotic drug, including any substance containing opium, heroine, isonipecaine, amidone, isoamidone, ketobemidone, lysergic acid diethylamide, cocoa leaves, any opiate, or any substance, compound, or derivative of a controlled substance will immediately be excluded, dis-enrolled and/or banished for life from the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian reservation and all lands that the tribe owns,” the resolution states.

Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier said in the press release: “This resolution will send a message to those who are thinking about bringing meth to Cheyenne River.”

Former CRST Police Officer Ashley Arpan who now serves with the Dewey County Sheriff’s Department sees the vote to banish individuals as a positive step toward curbing an ever-increasing problem.

“I honestly appreciate this action, as our people are suffering from the effects and fallout from illicit drug use. I hope they stick with it,” Arpan said in a Facebook post about the CRST action.

However he voiced his concern because he said in the past when the tribe passed resolutions to combat social problems, such as a gang ordinance in 1995, council representatives failed to take action when the arrests involved their family members.

“What happens is when Law Enforcement does enforce the resolution and the council rep’s kids or relatives, or someone affiliated with tribal leadership is arrested and charged for that resolution, all of a sudden that resolution is tabled, or sent for legal review, or altered, or softened to the point to where it is no longer a useful legal tool,” he said.

Arpan believes coordination between all law enforcement entities on the reservation will strengthen the resolution.

“If you really want to combat meth, coordinate all law enforcement on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, cross deputization between C.R.S.T. police and Ziebach and Dewey County Sheriff's Departments, get everyone on the same page, and work together to make arrests, show a strong law enforcement presence, empower the courts to actually prosecute and strengthen or augment the consequences for drug offenses, and utilize the new resolution to get rid of dealers, and stand by it,” he said.

Former drug treatment councilor and longtime advocate of women’s rights, Willi Dolphus said she is against the use and sale of controlled substances, but doesn’t believe disenrollment is the solution.

“Disenrollment will hurt far too many innocent people. That type of decision should go to the people. Disenrollment is pretty serious and effects families as well as the tribe,” Dolphus said.

(Ernestine Chasing Hawk can be contacted at

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