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Media Articles - 1990s

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12 January 2003
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Indian Health Service to Be Asked To Regulate Substance Abuse Site

The Daily Oklahoman,
March 27, 1991

The Indian Health Service will be asked whether it could certify and regulate a substance abuse center on Indian land.

Members of an Indian board leasing the old Chilocco Indian school near Newkirk to Narconon Chilocco New Life Center voted unanimously Tuesday to ask Oklahoma's area Indian Health Service director to consider accepting full or partial responsibility for the facility.

Sandy McNabb, a Florida lawyer and retired Bureau of Indian Affairs official, developed the idea. He said some Indians complained about losing sovereignty by allowing the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to enforce its regulations on Indian trust land.

"It's no guarantee," he said. "There's a possibility they could work out a total certification."

While Narconon is not an Indian agency, it could qualify to fall under IHS's jurisdiction because it is alloting 25 percent of its beds for Indians, he said.

Narconon Chilocco has been operating since February 1990 on 167 acres of land it is leasing from the Chilocco Development Authority.

The authority is made up of the chairmen of the Pawneee, Otoe-Missouria, Tonkawa, Kaw and Ponca tribes.

Tribal members and some authority members are uneasy about Narconon's 25-year lease it signed in 1989, especially with a requirement in the lease that requires the program to be approved and certified by the state.

The Kaw tribe formally introduced its resolution seeking to break Narconon's lease because of several alleged violations. Other tribes are awaiting audit reports from Narconon Chilocco and CDA before deciding whether to support the Kaws.

"Don't be overly optimistic that IHS is going to jump in here and solve all our problems," Robert Chapman, CDA chairman and chairman of the Pawnee tribe, said. "This is a complex legal issue."

Narconon Chilocco did not apply for state certification for its 75-bed facility until after the state sought to close it down for operating without a license. State mental health officials were stymied last fall to act on Narconon's certification after Narconon officials complained an evaluation was biased.