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Media Articles - 1990s

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3 December 2002
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Group's Sovereignty Questioned

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
February 13, 1992

NEWKIRK - An Indian group urging the Narconon alcohol and drug abuse treatment center to continue operating because the center is on Indian land has no authority to claim sovereignty, the head of an Indian board that leases the land to the center said Wednesday.

Robert Chapman, chairman of the Chilocco Development Authority, said the recently formed Native American Council on Chilocco is nothing more than a front for the unlicensed Narconon Chilocco New Life Center.

"These people are not a sovereign nation," he said. "They have no authority whatsoever to say these things.

"Narconon has pulled together again a little grass-roots organization for their own benefit and is trying to make a sovereignty issue. " Chapman said only the governments of the five tribes that make up the authority, which leases the old Chilocco Indian School to Narconon, can argue whether the tribes' sovereignty rights are at stake.

"We're not trying to fight with the state," Chapman said. "The state is the licensing entity for a drug and alcohol center in the state of Oklahoma. That's why Narconon went to the state in the first place - to get certified. "

"If there's a sovereignty issue, then the tribes will decide that," he said.

The Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services last year denied certification to the program, saying the treatment is medically unsafe and experimental.

Four of the five tribes have passed resolutions or made statements against allowing Narconon Chilocco to stay at the old campus, located six miles north of Newkirk.

Chapman repeated his belief that Narconon Chilocco, ordered by an Oklahoma County judge to stop treating patients, is violating its lease agreement by training staff workers.

Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, said the center has 20 trainees, but at the urging of the Native American Council on Chilocco, is continuing to treat four Indian patients and expects to admit new Indian patients later this month.

He said four non-Indian patients were sent to a Narconon treatment center in Los Angeles.

Chapman said the Bureau of Indian Affairs' area office in Anadarko has sent a letter stating that Narconon Chilocco is violating its lease because it stated it would not break any state laws.

The BIA letter states Narconon Chilocco is violating a judge's order to stop treating patients after Feb. 10, Chapman said. The letter also states Narconon Chilocco is not allowed to train staff, he said.

Smith said lawyers for Narconon Chilocco have filed a response to a contempt of court citation sought by the state attorney general's office because the facility continues to treat patients.

A major argument is that a journal entry on the original order issued last month by District Judge John Amick did not specifically state that Narconon Chilocco was to stop treating patients after Feb. 10, Smith said.