The Red Cliff Tribal Opioid Response Project will serve the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians residing on or near their reservation in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The creation of a Tribal Action Plan to address the severe drug issues and the implementation of a Healing Garden Recovery Program steeped in culture and tradition are the focus of this grant. The TAP will serve the entire community and it is expected the recovery project will serve 10 to 15 in its first year.
On June 4, 2018 by way of Tribal Resolution, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians declared a formal State of Emergency related to the prescription pill and opiate abuse crisis. According to a recent Tribal Census, 72.3% of all respondents feel the top priority for the Red Cliff Tribe is drug rehab programs and facilities. This clearly reflects how the drug epidemic is impacting all persons living on the reservation and a need for services. This crisis is disrupting a family centered way of life that has existed for hundreds of years.
Red Cliff is one of the smallest and poorest tribes in Wisconsin. There are 474 households located on 14,595 acres of rural and remote land on the Bayfield peninsula of Lake Superior. According to a July 2018 Tribal Census, 76% of all households are considered low-income, of which 37% are considered “extremely low-income” at less than 30% of HUD median income limits. Red Cliff has a young, growing population vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse due to stressors caused by overcrowding, unemployment, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and historical trauma. Of the 1,774 enrolled tribal members living on or near the reservation, 48% are under 30 years old. There are 466 children under 18 years old. Young children are being traumatized today by family members addicted to drugs who are abusive, neglectful, and in some cases violent in the home. Since January 2018 there have been 63 children removed from their homes and put into protective care primarily due to the drug epidemic. For years leading up to 2014 the Tribal Courts would have 3 to 5 cases per year needing out of home placement.
For the first major component of this grant, the Red Cliff band will hire an expert to work as a consultant with the Red Cliff Drug Task Force. Together they will develop a Tribal Action Plan to address the gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services. By using a consultant, the plan can be developed in a 2-month timeframe allowing implementation to proceed in a timely manner due to the urgency of the situation. Because the Tribe has just completed a validated tribal census using Big Water Consulting, accurate demographic data is available to complete the plan. In addition, statistics gathered for grant funding reports from tribal departments such as, Indian Child Welfare, Court Services, Behavioral Health, Law Enforcement and Family Violence Prevention will contribute to the statistical demonstration of need. The 11-member Drug Task Force will work with the consultant to develop the plan and continue monitor its implementation progress. The task force will meet monthly and includes the Health Services Administrator (Chair), Family and Human Services, Housing, Law Enforcement, Tribal Council, Behavioral Health, Courts, Planning, Indian Child Welfare, Youth and a Community Elder. Coordination of tribal activities will eliminate duplication of services and programs for maximum impact. This Tribal Action Plan component will assist all Red Cliff residents.
The second major component of this grant will be expansion of services available at the Nooji Drop-In Recovery Center by creating a Healing Garden pilot project. The center is open 7-days a week and has been implemented with CTAS funding. Through the TOR grant a Peer Support Specialist will connect those in recovery with our tribal Farm. This pilot project will create a healing connection between behavioral health services and the Red Cliff farm.