Pokagon Band receives recognition for innovative substance abuse program from state of Michigan

DOWAGIAC — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians recently announced it received the Treatment and System Transformation Award from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Recovery Systems of Care. The award was presented at the 19th Annual Michigan Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorder Conference in Grand Rapids.

The award was given for the tribe’s use of innovative treatment approaches for those struggling with a substance abuse disorder, such as holistic options and relationships with community treatment networks. Additionally, the award recognized The Pokagon Band’s creation of a media campaign that raises awareness among its citizens and families, and local community, to the dangers of opiate abuse, and to provide treatment options. 

“We are proud to have initiatives like this one that supports health services for Native Americans,” said Matthew Wesaw, Chairman of the Pokagon Band. “The epidemic is especially severe in rural areas and among Native Americans. Deaths from opiate overdose in rural areas rose by 325 percent since 2000, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. Native Americans fare the worst of all people of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our vision is to decrease the number of people who become addicted to opiates, and to greatly decrease the numbers of unintentional deaths by overdose.”

This is the first time a Native American tribe has won the award in Michigan. To be considered for this award, the program must focus on the individual and family in need of recovery services.

“The award acknowledges the Pokagon Band Behavioral Health Program is one of the top leaders in the state of Michigan for going above and beyond to treat those individuals effected by addiction,” said Daun Bieda, Program Supervisor for Pokagon Band Behavior Health. “We were honored for our creative “out of the box” campaign and treatment initiatives.”

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ sovereignty was reaffirmed under legislation signed into law by President Clinton in September of 1994. The Pokagon Band is dedicated to providing community development initiatives such as housing, education, family services, medical care and cultural preservation for its approximately 5,000 citizens.

The Pokagon Band’s 10-county service area includes four counties in southwestern Michigan and six in northern Indiana. Its main administrative offices are located in Dowagiac, Mich., with a satellite office in South Bend, Indiana.

In 2007, it opened Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Mich., followed by Four Winds Hartford in 2011 and Four Winds Dowagiac in 2013. Four Winds South Bend opened Jan. 16.  It owns and operates a variety of businesses via Mno-Bmadsen, the tribe’s non-gaming investment enterprise. More information is available at pokagonband-nsn.gov, fourwindscasino.com and mno-bmadsen.com.

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