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Media Articles - 1980s

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Drug Center Lease May Be Illegal; Ponca Tribe Lawyer Finds Contract Term Too Long

The Oklahoman
October 29, 1989

A lease allowing a controversial drug treatment center to operate on the old Chilocco Indian school grounds north of Newkirk could be illegal, a Ponca tribe leader said Saturday.

Members of the Ponca tribe's governing business committee, in a special session Saturday, decided to have a lawyer review the contract between the Chilloco Development Authority and Narconon International, said committee chairman Delbert Cole.

The Poncas, one of five tribes represented on the CDA, cannot legally lease tribal land for more than 10 years, Cole said.

The CDA lease with Narconon is for 25 years, he said. Other tribes belonging to the CDA are the Pawnees, Kaws, Tonkawas and Otoe-Missourias.

Cole said business committee members are concerned that past committee chairwoman Cynthia Stoner "overstepped her scope of authority."

"We think the lease is invalid since this has occurred," he said.

Also, Cole said his committee is unsure if the Tonkawas signed the Narconon lease.

The committee met at tribal headquarters after an open meeting that featured a presentation by Gary W. Smith, director of community and governmental affairs for Narconon Chilocco New Life Center.

Several people questioned Smith over Narconon's method of detoxification and its ties with the Church of Scientology, which some consider a cult.

Smith said the center will not be a training ground for Scientologists, although some staff members may be Scientologists.

Religious beliefs play a part in substance abuse rehabilitation and a non-denominational chapel will be built, he said.

"We do not dictate what that religious belief should be," he said.

The center should be open in about two months, he said.

The Narconon Chilocco New Life Center plans to eventually renovate most of the 45 buildings on its 160-acre leased tract during the next five years, Smith said. Its capacity would increase to 300 to 400 beds, he said.

Smith said the center, which will cost $4,000 a month, should have no problem finding clients.

"We've already got 75 booked (for) when we open," he said.