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Media Articles - 1990s

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3 December 2002
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Narconon To Ignore BIA Order To Close Chilocco Facility

By Michael McNutt, Enid Bureau

Daily Oklahoman,
March 10, 1992

An unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment center on Indian land will continue to treat patients despite receiving notice from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that it should close because it violated terms of its lease, the facility's president said.

Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center, is asking to meet with BIA officials to go over reasons why his facility should be allowed to continue operating.

"We find no valid ground to make plans for transfer of Narconon's students," Smith said. "Under the high level of medical supervision in place, Narconon is currently and will continue to deliver its life-saving services to those in need as required by the lease."

L.W. Collier Jr., area director of the BIA office in Anadarko, said Narconon Chilocco must comply by March 25 with regulations of the Oklahoma State Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or it should transfer its patients.

"I'm sure we'll meet with them eventually," Collier said Monday. "Whatever was contained in that letter is still in effect until something happens that they convince us otherwise that we're wrong."

Collier, in a letter dated February 25 to Narconon Chilocco, said a lease that allows Narconon Chilocco to use the old Chilocco Indian school includes a provision that requires it to comply with state laws.

Narconon Chilocco, which has been accepting patients since February 1990, was denied certification late last year by the state mental health board. Board members questioned the safety and effectiveness of its treatment program.

Narconon Chilocco has appealed in Oklahoma County District Court. To generate revenue in the meantime, Narconon Chilocco has taken in staff people from Narconon centers around the world for training classes. Non-Indian patients last month were transferred to a Narconon facility in Los Angeles, but Narconon continues to treat Indian patients at Chilocco. State lawyers argue that Narconon Chilocco needs a state approval to operate. Exemptions are given to facilities on Indian land, but they also have to be owned by Indians and must treat only Indians.

Last month a Kay County district judge took under advisement a motion by state lawyers to close down Narconon Chilocco because it is unlicensed. Narconon Chilocco lawyers claim the facility is exempt from state regulations and is protected by Indian sovereignty.

The lease between Narconon Chilocco and the Chilocco Development Authority, an Indian board responsible for managing the old Indian school about six miles north of Newkirk, states that Narconon Chilocco will not use the premises for "any unlawful conduct or purpose which is in violation of ... the laws of the state of Oklahoma."

Any violation of this clause, the lease states, "shall render the lease voidable."

But Smith said there is no requirement in the lease that Narconon Chilocco be certified or licensed by the state of Oklahoma.

Nor, he said, "was any such state approval made a prerequisite for operation by Narconon or the CDA under the lease."

Smith said the only agreement between Narconon Chilocco and the tribes concerning state approval was that Narconon Chilocco voluntarily would seek state certification "in order to increase the facility's client base through availability of third-party insurance payments."

"If unsuccessful with the state, it was and is Narconon's intent to seek other tribally endorsed sources of accreditation to allow such third-party payments."

Smith said an on-site inspection is scheduled for April by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Smith also took issue with the BIA that training staff violates terms of Narconon's lease.

An integral part of Narconon Chilocco's drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is the training staff from other Narconon centers, Smith said.