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Media Articles - 1990s

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Kaws Defy Tonkawas In Narconon Approval

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
July 10, 1992

The Tonkawa tribe's licensing and certification of an unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment center is being challenged by another Indian tribe.

The Kaw tribe's executive council has passed a resolution objecting to the Tonkawas' 90-day certification and licensing of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center in Newkirk.

The resolution, passed July 2, also states that the Kaw Nation will only accept certification of Narconon Chilocco from the state of Oklahoma.

State certification of the non-Indian owned and operated center does not set aside the tribe's sovereignty, the resolution said.

Wanda Stone, Kaw chairman, said Thursday that the Tonkawas' certification and licensing of Narconon Chilocco is worthless unless it is supported by a majority of the five tribes that manage the former Chilocco Indian school, which is being leased to the center.

The Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services last year denied certification for Narconon Chilocco, saying the center's treatment was medically unsafe and experimental.

Narconon Chilocco sought relief from the Oklahoma State Supreme Court, which recently issued a stay. The stay allows the facility to remain open until the court acts on the appeal filed by Narconon Chilocco and the Tonkawa tribe.

Meanwhile, Narconon Chilocco is scheduled to ask the state mental health board today for exemption from state certification because it last month was accredited by a private Arizona agency, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Part of the appeal is based on the Tonkawas' decision two months ago to form an agency to govern treatment programs on tribal land.

That agency, the Native American Drug and Alcohol Program Services, issued a 90-day certification for Narconon Chilocco.

Stone said the certification is meaningless because the center is on land owned by five tribes - the Tonkawas, Kaws, Otoe-Missourias, Poncas and Pawnees.

The Chilocco Development Authority, with a representative from each of the tribes, manages the property.

Delbert Cole, a Ponca and chairman of the Chilocco authority, said his tribe is working on a resolution similar to that of the Kaws. In addition, the Poncas for years have recognized the state's authority to certify two tribal rehabilitation centers on Indian land, he said.

Cole said the Tonkawa tribe's certification and licensing of Narconon Chilocco is not valid unless the Chilocco Development Authority approves it.

"If they want to go ahead and license Narconon for 90 days, they ought to pull Narconon down to Tonkawa country," Cole said.

Meanwhile, Tonkawa President Virginia Combrink said she is not worried about the opposition from the Ponca and Kaw tribes.

The tribe's licensing of Narconon Chilocco is based on reports and information from the state mental health board and Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, she said.

Combrink said she expects the Pawnees and Otoe-Missourias to support her tribe's agency and its authority on the Chilocco land.

The Pawnee tribe is struggling with internal woes and is unable to take any formal action, and the Otoe-Missourias have not taken up the issue.

All Narconon Chilocco's patients are Indians whose cost of $21,000 each for the three-month program comes from donors and scholarships.