Representatives from the Ho-Chunk Nation attended a meeting in Black River Falls this month, to discuss the Tribal Action Plan (TAP) that they have developed.
The plan has outlined ways to address an ongoing drug problem.
“Tribal Action Plans are something that the state of Wisconsin has with each of the tribes,” said Pharmacy Director Ted Hall. “They assist with developing a strategic plan around prevention and treatment of drugs, and alcohol.”
Ho-Chunk Nation developed its own plan last year, after several of its tribal members suffered fatal drug overdoses.
To manage it, the tribe formed a Tribal Coordinating Committee (TCC) comprised of community members and representatives from numerous departments in the Nation. Departments of Health, Housing, Education and several others have been involved.
However, their plan has been slow to get off the ground.
“It’s obvious that the Tribal Action Plan really hasn’t been progressing as fast as we want it to,” said Executive Director of Housing Myra Price. “We’re just in the initial phases.”
The often-frustrating crawl has not phased committee members, though. Rather, they have been encouraging one another to keep striving toward their goal of eliminating drug use in the tribe.
They discussed ways to reach that goal during a Jan. 8 meeting.
Agenda items included grant applications to assist with funding the program, safe houses for those who are awaiting treatment, and options for a website or social-media page.
The committee first considered a Rural Health Network Development Program Planning Grant – which would give the group $100,000 to work with as it pursues development of a healthcare network that is more accessible to rural residents.
District 1 Legislator Hinu Smith saw the grant as an excellent opportunity.
“A planning grant like this could be a doorway to more funding,” Smith said. “And maybe this is a source to fund the supportive-living homes.”
Safe houses were the next agenda item. According to Director of Housing Myra Price, her department has already acquired two such homes – one in Black River Falls, and another in Necedah. They have begun searching for a third, elsewhere in Wisconsin.
Various models for the program have been under consideration.
“We don’t know what we’re doing yet,” Price said. “I’ve been looking at our lease, and there has been some legal questions.”
On-site counseling could be something to consider, Price said.
The committee then weighed its options for an online platform to help spread the word about the tribe’s Action Plan. Tribal AmeriCorps Program Manager Henrietta Funmaker discussed the possibility of a social-media page.
“It would be easier to put it out on Facebook,” Funmaker said. “The question is…Do we want to be on Facebook?”
The committee debated the issue at length, but ended up tabling the discussion for a later date.
Other items addressed at the meeting included the level of participation in community drug walks, attendance at the recent “sobriety powwow,” and the upcoming NARCAN training for the Nation’s employees.
“Our pharmacists are leading the NARCAN-training initiative,” Pharmacist Ted Hall said, “that will take place in every community.”
The training has already taken place in Nekoosa, and will be available to anyone who expresses interest. Those wishing to have training in their own community should contact the pharmacy, or a member of the coordinating committee.
Its next meeting will take place on Feb. 12, in Nekoosa.