News Release

Great Plains Tribal Leaders' Health Board

The Great Plains Tribal Leaders' Health Board is set to premiere a new comic series that will raise awareness about opioid misuse and abuse in Indian Country.

The fully animated “Skyhawk Reborn” will debut on October 8, 2021, in both a fully animated digital version and print. The print versions will include a version using the Lakota language, and one in Dakota set to release later this year.

“We wanted to find creative ways to reach young people about the dangers of opioids,” said Tosa Two Heart, the director of the Health Board’s Community Behavior Health programs. “The creation of this animated series is something new and fresh that we hope captures the attention of our youth,” she added.

The Great Plains Tribal Opioid Response program, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), supplements current activities at the Health Board focused on reducing the impact of opioids and contributes to a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic in tribal communities. The program aims to address the opioid crisis in tribal communities by increasing access to culturally appropriate and evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment using one of the three FDA-approved medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). 

“The Health Board is always focused on creating culturally appropriate care practices, and with that comes an opportunity to create public health content that accurately represents our people. So often, we see health education material created that fails to resonate with tribal citizens. We hope that “Skyhawk Reborn” will stimulate new ideas across Indian Country about how to reach our people,” said Brandon Ecoffey, Communications Director at the Health Board.

In addition to focusing on opioid use disorder, recipients may also address stimulant misuse and use conditions, including cocaine and methamphetamine. The intent is to reduce unmet treatment needs and opioid overdose-related deaths by providing prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for opioid use disorder and, if so desired, stimulant misuse and use disorders. The Great Plains Tribal Leaders' Health Board has partnered with the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and the American Indian community of the He Sapa (Pennington County, South Dakota) on this project.

The Health Board was recently awarded an additional Tribal Opioid Response grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Through a strategy of coordinating resources in prevention, treatment, and recovery, the Great Plains Tribal Opioid Response program’s is to create and coordinate resources that strengthen, complement, and sustain the capacity to support the ability to prevent and treat opioid use disorder and stimulant misuse in five additional tribal communities: the Trenton Indian Service Area, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.

The Health Board is encouraging tribal youth programs and schools to use the material to help educate Native American youth about the dangers of opioids. The videos were produced in partnership with KAT Communications.

*Serving as a liaison between the Great Plains Tribes and the various Health and Human Services divisions including the Great Plains Area Indian Health Service, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board  works to reduce public health disparities and improve the health and wellness of the American Indian peoples who are members of the 18 Great Plains tribal nations and communities. Through public health practices and the formation of tribal partnerships, we work to improve the health of the American Indian peoples we serve by providing public health support and health care advocacy.

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