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Media Articles - 1990s

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Drug Center May Be Forced to Leave Tribal Site

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
December 15, 1991

A drug and alcohol treatment center denied state certification could be asked to leave the old Indian school campus it is leasing early next year, the chairman of a tribal board which owns the property said Saturday.

Meanwhile, actress Kirstie Alley, the most visible advocate for Narconon Chilocco New Life Center, said Saturday the state Mental Health Board had a hidden agenda when on Friday it, by a 6-0 vote, rejected the center's certification request.

Robert Chapman, chairman of the Chilocco Development Authority, said he sees no reason why Narconon Chilocco should stay on the grounds of the Chilocco Indian School much longer after its 27 patients are sent to other facilities.

Chapman, chairman of the Pawnee tribe, said he will call a special meeting of his board to discuss establishing a schedule for Narconon Chilocco to vacate the premises. The board is made up of tribal heads from the Pawnee, Ponca, Otoe-Missouria, Kaw and Tonkawa tribes.

Chapman said it's likely Narconon, which has accepted patients since February 1990, could be off the Chilocco campus within three months.

Chapman said Narconon officials told authority members that the facility would be state certified and licensed.

"We're holding them to it," he said. "We don't understand how they can even operate without the certification."

The issue of whether state officials will be allowed on the campus, which is Indian restricted land managed by the authority, for the purpose of shutting down Narconon Chilocco if it fails to comply with a state order to shut down the facility.

That issue, he said, will be discussed with the authority's lawyers.

The Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in denying certification, gave Narconon seven days to move out.

Narconon plans to appeal in Oklahoma County District Court.

The center's lawyer, Harry Woods Jr., said he also will ask for a stay order allowing Narconon to continue operating until the appeal process is completed.

Woods made the same request to the mental health board, but board members denied it, saying the appeal process could take two or three years.

Board members said they wanted the patients moved out in a week because of concerns over patients' well-being.

Board members said they questioned the safety and effectiveness of Narconon's treatment of saunas and vitamins for patients.

The board said the treatment offered by Narconon Chilocco is experimental and is not medically safe.

Chapman said he will ask board members to set up a procedure to monitor Narconon's departure to make sure no buildings are damaged.

"The tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs probably will be monitoring them very closely," he said.

In a statement released Saturday, Alley said: "It is an unconscionable attempt by the representatives of vested interests to stop a truly effective program that saves lives.

"The board's decision can only have been reached by people who have practically no regard for the lives of drug addicts and who are set on keeping society on drugs. " Alley, star of the show, "Cheers," has praised Narconon's program and has traveled to Oklahoma several times to speak on behalf of the center.

"I myself effectively dealt with drug addictions over 12 years ago through the Narconon program," she said. "It helped save my life."