The Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council (DOTC) declared a state of emergency yesterday in a news conference at Long Plain First Nation southwest beside Portage. Six chiefs from Swan Lake, Dakota Tipi, Sandy Bay, Long Plain, Birdtail Sioux, and Roseau River First Nations presented and answered questions for the media.

"Last month we got together and we started discussing the drug and alcohol issues we have in our community," says Chief Keith Pashe of Dakota Tipi First Nation. "So, we came to the conclusion that we have to start an emergency strategy plan to attack it. This includes building our own treatment centre based on a cultural component."

Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches says the situation of drugs and alcohol has spiralled out of control on reserves. He notes news articles report related issues in their communities on a daily basis.

Meeches explains the key is to move forward proactively and work with governments and child care agencies to create new programming geared toward indigenous identity, culture and customs. He adds it needs to be looked at as a health issue. With their culture forcefully removed from them in the early part of the last century, they've lost their identity and much of the baggage they're dealing over the current drug crisis is the result

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