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Oklahoma tribes get $5.3 million from HUD

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that tribes in Oklahoma will receive nearly one quarter of $22 million in grants going to 57 tribes throughout Indian country.

HUD identified problems with drug abuse in tribal housing throughout the country and the grant is to help tribal governments fund programs that are preventative and also address the problems of current abuse among Native American populations

We are giving the most funding to more tribes than ever to help ease the burden of drug abuse and criminal activity associated with drugs in these areas,." HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo said."

The Cherokee Nation will receive the largest portion of the $5.3 million with $1,607,840 going to fight drug problems. The tribe has a drug elimination program in place to help curb drug use and also has prevention programs and activities to assist tribal members.

Russell Sossamon, executive director for the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority, said that although the tribe has a plan in place, it plans to use the $1,107,600 to provide more services for tribal members.

Project Horizon helps tribal members in five different communities, he said. "Other services include gang awareness, drug and alcohol counseling, education and other services." The housing authority also provides deadbolts, security windows and the like, he added.

Other Oklahoma tribes receiving HUD grant money include the Muscogee (Creek) $560,277; the Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority, $436,200; the Housing Authority of the Peoria Tribe of Indians, $259,200; the Kaw Tribal Housing Authority, $70,200; and the Comanche Nation Housing, $332,400.

The Absentee Shawnee authority plans to use its money to operate drug prevention activities at the community center. The tribe has not had funding for their project for the past two years said Glen Edwards, director of the housing authority.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time," Edwards said. The drug prevention programs are planned to provide drug intervention/treatment, crime prevention, referrals and networking, support services (transportation, etc.) and will include a cultural component.

The 827 families who will be serviced by the program will be able to join in various cultural and traditional arts and crafts. The authority also plans to help tribal members with self-esteem and personality enhancement through its programs.

Edwards said a goal is not only to reduce the frequency of crime in tribal housing, but also to help members with drug problems.

Part of the process it is incorporating in the program will enhance scientific knowledge of the effectiveness of such programs in Native American communities.