Rosebud Tribal Chairman’s Feb 09 Statement

While trying to find a transcript for the March 25, 2010 Senate Indian Affairs hearing I found this:



                          FEBRUARY 26, 2009


        Printed for the use of the Committee on Indian Affairs


Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota


Prepared Statement of Rodney Bordeaux, President, Rosebud Sioux Tribe


   On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, I appreciate

the opportunity to submit written testimony regarding the youth suicide

crisis occurring on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation. The 877,831-

acre Rosebud Reservation is located in south-central South Dakota

consisting of 20 communities within a four county area (Tripp, Todd,

Mellette and Gregory counties) and borders Pine Ridge to the northwest

corner and Nebraska to the south. Our tribal headquarters is located in

Rosebud, SD. Approximately 19,000 members of approximately 26,000

members are domiciled on the Rosebud Reservation.

   I, thank you for convening this important hearing on youth suicide

in Indian Country. Sadly, the Rosebud Reservation has tragically lost

many of our youth and young people to suicide completions. From January

2005 through January 2009 Rosebud has had 37 suicide completions, 617

suicide attempts, and 629 suicidal ideations. Indian Health Service

(I.H.S.) reported 1,272 encounters with different individuals who have

completed, attempted or had suicidal ideation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe

has the highest suicide rate in the nation for 10-24 year old males.

These are alarming statistics originating from our Reservation. I look

forward to working with you and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in

addressing and bringing further awareness to this crisis, which is

devastating our communities and Indian Country.

   I need to emphasize that Rosebud is working to develop and provide

cultural suicide prevention and youth programs. However, we have an

overwhelming need for resources to provide these programs. We have

developed programs to assist with basic public safety and awareness,

substance abuse and mental health, as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs

on the Reservation. Additionally, we are supporting our families and

communities through our cultural and educational programs.

Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center

   Rosebud is located in a rural, remote area of Indian Country and

relies heavily on funding from the I.H.S. and Bureau of Indian Affairs

(BIA) to provide services and resources to our tribal members. Due to

I.H.S. and BIA being consistently under-funded, we have turned to our

Congressional delegation for assistance in procuring additional

resources for substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities

and equipment. Rosebud identified a need to create a culturally-based

suicide prevention treatment program and facility specific to our


   Rosebud has worked diligently for nine years to obtain funding, to

build the current 20-bed treatment facility for mental health, which

has been open for three years. It remains necessary to develop

additional youth programs to assist in recovery and rehabilitation.

Therefore, Rosebud is establishing the Wiconi Wakan (Sacredness of

Life) Health and Healing Center, a place to implement the Tribal Youth

Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Project plan targeting

Rosebud children and youth (ages 10-24 years old) on the Rosebud


   Inherently our youth are sacred and a vital asset to the people of

the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. Suicide has created a destructive ripple in

the very structure of our Lakota Oyate. The effects of suicide will be

felt for generations. The Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center will

provide a venue for reviving the life of our people.

   The Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center will significantly

contribute to the available scientific knowledge on the mental health

status and delivery of services to children and youth on the Rosebud

Reservation regarding Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention

and will provide a valuable template for replication by other Tribal

communities throughout the country. Rosebud has developed a Suicide

Prevention plan to advocate and coordinate a culturally comprehensive

community-based approach to reduce suicidal behaviors and suicides in

the Sicangu Lakota communities while facilitating wellness.

   The primary purposes of the Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center

is to strengthen, implement and develop culturally and linguistically

appropriate youth suicide prevention and early intervention services

for Rosebud tribal members. This level of intervention will include

screening programs, gatekeeper training for “frontline” adult

caregivers and peer “natural helpers,” support and skill building

groups for at-risk Rosebud youth, and enhanced accessible crisis

services and referrals sources. To be directly informed by parents,

youth, and providers within the Rosebud Reservation. To increase

awareness of the signs of suicide amongst community, parents, and

youth, working collaboratively with other agencies, providers and

organizations sharing information and resources by promoting awareness

that suicide is preventable.

   Rosebud will implement the public health approach to suicide

prevention as outlined in the Institute of Medicine Report, “Reducing

Suicide: A National Imperative.” This approach focuses on identifying

broader patterns of suicide and suicidal behavior, which will be useful

in analyzing data collected and monitoring the effectiveness of

services provided. Rosebud will focus on methodology research on

suicide and suicide prevention by providing consistent leadership and

monitoring of suicide prevention activities.

Collaborative Effort

   Recognizing our overwhelming need, the Department of Health and

Human Services (HHS) deployed officials from the I.H.S. to spend

extended lengths of time on our Reservation and address our youth

suicide crisis.

   Dr. Kevin McGuinness, Ph.D., MS, JD, ABPP and Dr. Rose Weahkee

visited the Rosebud reservation for a second time from December 4th to

December 18th 2008. During this visit they worked collaboratively with

Victor Douville, Sinte Gleska University Instructor and Lori Walking

Eagle, MSW, Executive Administrative Officer for the RST–President’s

office. Discussions were held regarding systemic influences from the

micro to the macro level within the Reservation systems. The

Consultation process focused on cultural systems of wellness, cross

cultural sharing of knowledge regarding organizational operations and

development of systems with the expertise of Rosebud Tribal leadership

to integrate “Wolakota” as a principal intervention that will restore

balance through the tribe and its communities to its most vulnerable

members. The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council will participate and attend a

retreat which will enhance traditional knowledge.

Wiconi Wakan “Sacredness of Life” Suicide Prevention Summit

   On July 1-2, 2008, Rosebud hosted the, “Wiconi Wakan Suicide

Prevention Summit,” in Mission SD at the Sinte Gleska University.

While I convened the Summit that morning, our community was burying

another youth, which further emphasized the need to discuss and address

this crisis affecting our people and communities. Representatives from

the South Dakota delegation, state, local, and federal government

officials including South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds’ Secretary of

the Department of Human Service, the Director of the South Dakota

Indian Health Care Initiative, HHS Director of Office of

Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration (SAMHSA) Administrator as well as other

officials from the I.H.S. and HHS along with tribal leaders, members,

and youth attended and participated, providing experiences and insight

in preventing future youth suicide.

   As a result of the Summit, the South Dakota Secretary of the

Department of Human Services, Jerry Hofer, committed the state to

opening more of its SAMHSA grants and resources to Rosebud. The state

currently receives a Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act grant from SAMHSA,

which is also known as the “Suicide Awareness Partnership Project,”

from the State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention

Program. For three years, $400,000 is given annually to the state. At

the time of the Summit, Mr. Hofer indicated that the state is in its

2nd year of the grant. The purpose of the Suicide Awareness Partnership

Project is to reduce suicide attempts and completions in South Dakota

for youths aged 14-24 in 25 high schools and two universities. Mr.

Hofer reported that the Todd Country School District and St. Francis

Indian School, both located on the Rosebud Reservation whom serve our

youth, are pilot schools in the project as is the Sinte Gleska

University. Mr. Hofer reported that the state has specifically

contracted with the Sinte Gleska University to provide awareness and

prevention activities on the Rosebud Reservation.

   Rosebud is extremely appreciative of the state providing resources

to our schools and youth through the SAMHSA grant. We understand that

the grant will be nearing its three-year term and are concerned as to

how these programs will continue to operate once the grant is

exhausted. We have overwhelming needs in our communities including a

need for additional resources to build upon and expand on these

imperative programs to ensure our youth are given opportunities for

suicide prevention. At Risk Tribes should be allowed to receive block

grants like the states from SAMHSA.

   None of the Block Grant funding reaches the tribal government for

program development and suicide prevention efforts. Currently, the Red

Lake Band of Chippewa (Minnesota) are the only federally recognized

tribe included with the States that receive Block Grant Funding.

Regarding our current suicide crisis the Rosebud Sioux Tribe should be

allocated and allowed to receive Block Grant Funding to eliminate

suicides on our Reservation. Because of our Government to Government

relationship which we enjoy with the federal government we should not

be restricted from receiving Block Grant Funding. Due to the high rate

of suicides in Indian Country Block Grants should be available to those

tribes experiencing the loss of their youth to suicides.

Need for Resources to Provide Programs to our Youth

   Rosebud has several programs to provide activities and resources to

our youth. However, in each of these areas, funding resources are

continually problematic for the viability and expansion of the

programs. We need a major infusion of funding to serve and support

youth in our communities to further their skill sets and provide for

training and increase opportunities.

   I will now outline several programs which have been proven to be

effective for our tribal youth.

–Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program (SNETP)

   The Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program serves’ our

youth in the following areas: work experience, on-the-job training, and

classroom training. The SNETP receives approximately $208,148 annually

to serve the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and approximately 20% of the Crow

Creek Sioux Tribe youth.

   Additionally, the SNETP has developed and implemented several

unique programs which serve our tribal youth:

 –Youth Conservation Corp–a collaborative effort with

       Rosebud, Yankton, Standing Rock, and Cheyenne River Sioux

       Tribes with the U.S. Forest Service–allows our youth to gain

       experience in the forestry field while spending time in our

       sacred Black Hills area;

 –Straw Bale Home Initiative–teaches our youth how to build a

       straw bale home from start to finish in collaboration with the

       SNETP and Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi (Housing Authority). This

       program operates on a “green works” concept; serving the dual

       purpose of providing for less-expensive homes, and meeting

       Reservation housing shortage needs.

 –Habitat for Humanities–teaches our youth to build a

       standard home earning a one-year building credit certificate at

       our local university. Upon obtaining the one-year certificate,

       our youth are offered full-time employment with the housing


 –Penn Foster Online High School Diploma Program–allows our

       youth (18 to 21 years old) to obtain their high school diploma


–Solar Heat Panel Training and Installation–a collaborative

       effort by the SNETP and Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi teaches youth

       a “green works” concept that conserves our natural resources

       while utilizing solar energy to heat homes.

   During the summer of 2008, the SNETP received 689 summer youth

applications only 200 youths could be served due to funding

constraints. Over two-thirds of interested students reaching out for

assistance had to be turned away. Increased funding for the SNETP’s

youth employment program could have a major, positive impact on our

tribal youth, especially with the high number of suicides that our

community has experienced in the past few years. Increased funding will

provide for additional resources to extend to the overwhelming number

of youth we have been unable to serve. We strive to keep our youth

occupied by increasing services in the form of employment, incentives

for accomplishments, and supportive services in their endeavors to

overcome barriers.

–Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training Sessions

   Rosebud received funding in 2008 for CERT Training Sessions for our

youth, which were extremely effective in training, providing knowledge

and skill sets regarding emergency medical response and preparedness.

Rosebud held two sessions of CERT training, which trained over 100

youth in our communities. The tribal youth that were trained under this

program developed important set of skills which led to aiding tribal

members in emergency medical situations and prevention. Rosebud has a

major need to continue providing this vital training opportunity for

our tribal youth. The CERT Training prepares our youth for emergencies

and events for when our Emergency Medical Services arrive on the scene.

The training empowers our tribal youth to seek medical positions.

Having trained tribal youth in our communities provides increased

medical and public safety, especially in light of our expansive rural

Reservation. Rosebud greatly supports this program and seeks to receive

additional funding to serve more of our tribal youth.

–Boys and Girls Clubs

   To be completely effective in helping prevent youth suicide we need

Boys and Girls Club centers in all 20 of our communities. Rosebud has

20 communities on the Reservation, but there are only three small Boys

and Girls Clubs. Despite this fact, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Boys and

Girls Club plays’ an important role in providing activities and a

central place for our youth to gather. To fully reach all of our tribal

youth on the Reservation, we need funding to provide additional

recreational facilities, activities and programs for all of our



   Rosebud understands and has intimately experienced the devastation

youth suicide has on our families, communities, and Tribe. With 37

suicide completions in less than five years, Rosebud is deeply

concerned and focused on preventing suicides on our Reservation.

Although we are working to develop and expand our programs by

incorporating culturally-based components and curriculums, funding and

resources remain a major obstacle. The federal government has a trust

responsibility to Tribes, and Rosebud greatly appreciates the

collaborative efforts among the state and federal government. However,

we still have major needs and funding deficiencies that must be

addressed. To increase the number of highly-trained individuals

specialized in suicide prevention for each of our communities would be

monumental in addressing our crisis.

   We need additional resources and flexibility in the use of funding

to provide, create, and maintain programs that incorporate culturally-

based components that connect and are tailored for our youth. Tribes

need access to resources, trained health care professionals, and

prevention programs to adequately address this crisis that continues to

plague our Reservation.

   Thank you, for holding this very important hearing for Indian

Country, giving us the opportunity to express our views and concerns

regarding tribal youth suicide.


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