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Media Articles - 1990s

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3 December 2002
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Narconon Draws Backing From Indian Supporters

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
February 11, 1992

NEWKIRK - An Indian group vowed Monday to hold a vigil outside an unlicensed drug and alcohol treatment center to show its support.

Today is the deadline for Narconon Chilocco New Life Center to comply with a court order to stop treating patients.

Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, said the center has sent four patients to a Narconon site in Los Angeles. He said four Indian patients remain at Narconon Chilocco, the former Chilocco Indian school about six miles north of Newkirk.

Smith said the patients want to stay at Narconon Chilocco, but more importantly, an Indian group is asking the center to keep the Indian patients because it feels obeying state officials would threaten an Indian's right to be treated on Indian land.

Tony Arkeketa, secretary-treasurer of the Native American Council of Chilocco, said lawyers are being consulted on whether a lawsuit will be filed to contest the state's authority over Narconon Chilocco.

He said about three members of his group plan to spend the next few days around Narconon Chilocco to film any attempt by state officials to remove patients.

"We're looking to see if the state is going to infringe the rights of Native Americans," Arkeketa said. "We don't feel like there is proper authority for the state or any of its officials to come onto Indian country and to remove in any way any patients." Smith said Narconon Chilocco has an obligation to consider the views of the Indian group because the center is on Indian trust land administered by a board made up of five surrounding tribes.

"Because we're on sovereign land and members of the tribe in fact own pieces of this campus, we must, to the best of our ability, comply to the wishes of those that are concerned about this sovereignty issue," he said.

The Indian group also wants Narconon Chilocco to accept other Indians, he said.

Most of the Indians treated at Narconon Chilocco receive free treatment, according to terms of a 25-year lease agreement with the Chilocco Development Authority.

Four non-Indian patients were sent to Narconon in Los Angeles to complete the program, Smith said. One completed the program Sunday, and another finished Monday, he said.

Of six Indians at Narconon Chilocco last week, two graduated and four others remain, Smith said.

Guy Hurst, a lawyer with the state attorney general's office, said it is unlikely state officials will attempt to remove the Indian patients.

However, he said a contempt-of-court citation might be filed against Narconon Chilocco for violating an Oklahoma County judge's order to stop treating patients by Monday.

Hurst said the state has the authority and reponsibility to make sure mental health patients receive proper treatment. Members of the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services denied Narconon Chilocco's certifications because they said its program, which relies on saunas and vitamins, is experimental and medically unsafe.

Narconon Chilocco, which charges an average fee of $21,000 for a thee-month program, now plans to stay open by training staff members.