Health | National

Senate panel sets hearing on substance abuse in Indian Country

Darrell Seki, the chairman of the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota, talked about drug and alcohol abuse at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on June 24, 2015. Photo from Flickr

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold an oversight hearing on alcohol and drug abuse on Wednesday.

According to the Indian Health Service, American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from high rates of alcoholism. Their mortality rate from alcoholism is about four times higher than that of the general population.

Drug abuse is also an issue in Indian Country. Darrell G. Seki, the chairman of the Red Lake Nation of Minnesota, attributed high rates of youth suicide to addiction.

"A lack of employment opportunities results in poverty and disparity. Poverty and disparity can lead to drugs and addiction," Seki said at a June 24 hearing before the committee. "Drug addiction leads to tear down of our families, which often precipitates high suicide rates."

Wednesday's hearing takes place immediately following a business meeting at 2:15pm in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. The witness list follows:
The Honorable Robert G. McSwain
Principal Deputy Director, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD

Ms. Mirtha Beadle
Director, Office of Tribal Affairs and Policy, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD

The Honorable Melanie Benjamin
Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Onamia, MN

The Honorable John P. Walters
Chief Operating Officer, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Sunny Goggles
Director, White Buffalo Recovery Program, Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Arapahoe, WY

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Examining the True Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Native Communities." (July 29, 2015)

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