Cherokee Nation Sues Opioid Distributors, Pharmacies


APR 20 2017, 9:04 PM ET

Cherokee Nation Sues Opioid Distributors, Pharmacies

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Cherokee Nation sued distributors and retailers of opioid medications on Thursday, alleging the companies have contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” within the tribe and have not done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioid painkillers.

The lawsuit alleges that six distribution and pharmacy companies have created conditions in which “vast amounts of opioids have flowed freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers” within the 14 northeastern Oklahoma counties that comprise the Cherokee Nation.

The tribe argues the companies regularly turn a “blind eye” to opioid prescriptions that would require further investigation before pills are dispensed. The lawsuit also alleges the companies have pursued profits instead of trying to reduce opioid-related addition that has taken the lives of hundreds of Cherokee citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs.

“Defendants have created an environment in which drug diversion can flourish,” the lawsuit states.

Related: Trump Admin to Pay Cash Promised by Obama to Fight Opioid Crisis

The lawsuit, filed in the Cherokee Nation District Court, names as defendants distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp., and pharmacies CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

AmerisourceBergen spokesman Gabriel Weissman released a statement saying the company stops the shipment of orders it believes are suspicious.

“The issue of opioid abuse is a complex one that spans the full health care spectrum, including manufacturers, wholesalers, insurers, prescribers, pharmacists and regulatory and enforcement agencies,” Weissman said.

Cardinal Health said in a statement that it will defend itself against the allegations and believes the lawsuit does not advance “the hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis – an epidemic driven by addiction, demand and the diversion of medications for illegitimate use.”

Related: Chronic Pain Sufferers Are Scared by Ohio’s New Opioid Rules

CVS Health said it has stringent policies and procedures to determine whether a controlled substance prescription was issued for a legitimate medical purpose before a pharmacist fills it. Walgreens said it does not comment on pending legislation.

Wal-Mart and McKesson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit seeks to make the companies accountable for creating an oversupply of the drugs, said special counsel Richard Fields, an attorney for the tribe in Washington, D.C.

“We’re hoping that this case and others like it will put a focus on the supply is too great,” Fields said.

Sad Thought: Politicians Will Decide If Grizzly Bears Will Survive In The U.S.



Copyright R Bear Stands Last All Rights Reserved

Copyright R Bear Stands Last All Rights Reserved

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The largest Tribal Nation in North America has declared its support for GOAL Tribal Coalition and the Tribal Nations that stand in opposition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear.

“On behalf of the Cherokee Nation, I join other tribal leaders in expressing concerns about the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) efforts to remove federal protections pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the Yellowstone grizzly bear,” begins Cherokee Nation Principal Chief, Bill John Baker, in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and FWS Director Dan Ashe.

The 315,000 strong Cherokee Nation joined the united tribal effort to preserve ESA status for the Yellowstone grizzly bear following a process that was initiated by a meeting at the tribe’s headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma between Cherokee Nation officials and GOAL Tribal Coalition in January.

Director of Cherokee Nation Natural Resources, Gunter Gulager, chaired the meeting.

“For many Indian tribes, the grizzly bear is sacred and has a significant place in their cultures and ceremonial ways of life,” Principal Chief Baker informs Secretary Jewell in the Cherokee Nation’s letter.

Cherokee society is composed of seven matrilineal clans, the oldest of which is considered to be the Bear Clan, a subdivision of the Blue Clan.

Though more familiar with black bears in their historic and ancestral territory, the Cherokee identified the “Great White Bear,” the grizzly, as the chief of all bears, and bears as the “chief tribe” among the animal nations.

In common with many tribes, Cherokee traditions relate how the Great Bear was a benevolent teacher, and introduced the Cherokee to important food sources and medicine ways. The Cherokee Bear Dance was performed to protect tribal members from diseases carried by European immigrants.

In the Cherokee Nation’s letter, Principal Chief Baker focuses on FWS’s lack of meaningful tribal consultation.

“I understand this action is being taken without FWS engaging in formal tribal consultation in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other policies,” he writes.

“This administration has engaged in tribal consultation on federal policy decisions that have tribal implications at historic levels,” Principal Chief Baker continues. “Fulfillment of this commitment on FWS’s effort to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear is consistent with Executive Order 13175 and other policies that strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes.”

The Cherokee Nation reminds Secretary Jewell that, “only 2 percent of the historic population of grizzlies exists today, and they survive on less than 2 percent of their original range.”

Director Gulager related the State of Wyoming’s hostile attitude towards grizzly bears to that of Montana’s toward the buffalo over the last twenty-years.

“We understand what solidarity is, and how important it is to support those tribes on the frontlines of this issue,” Gulager told GOAL, while expressing how the Cherokee Nation wanted to save the Great Bear from being managed down the state sanctioned barrels of trophy hunters’ guns.

If the Yellowstone grizzly bear is delisted the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will sell high-dollar grizzly trophy hunts across a landscape defined by a multitude of sacred sites that 26 tribes have traditional ceremonial and ancestral connections to.

“The grizzly bear is a living spirit that is a part of our ceremonies and our ancestors have been using the medicine given by the grizzly bear for generations,” explains Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.

“We talk about harmony, balance, understanding and the sacred relationship between all things, while others talk about trophy hunting. Even the white ones that are born, the sacred messengers of Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth, are being killed and will continue to be killed if this abuse is not stopped. My heart is heavy because of this,’” says Chief Looking Horse.

One of Indian Country’s most recognizable spiritual leaders, Chief Looking Horse opposes the delisting and the subsequent trophy hunting of the grizzly, and instead advocates for the grizzly to be returned to vast swathes of biologically suitable habitat that it roamed pre-European contact.

“We urge the FWS to commence tribal consultation so tribal concerns on the impact of delisting grizzly bears and potential impacts on their survival will be considered,” implores Principal Chief Baker.

GOAL (Guardians of Our Ancestors’ Legacy) Tribal Coalition has liaised with prominent spiritual leaders, elders and tribal governments to form an alliance against delisting the Yellowstone grizzly bear, citing spiritual, sovereignty and treaty violations among its concerns. The coalition now stands at 33 Tribal Nations.

Cherokee Nation Trying to Help Veterans Receive Their Earned Benefits

(This article is courtesy of the Native News Online)


 Cherokee Nation Veterans Center located near the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.

Cherokee Nation Veterans Center located near the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.

Published September 25, 2016

TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation is hosting a resource and benefit enrollment fair for all veterans on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah.

“Cherokee Nation is committed to the mental and physical health of our military veterans. Hosting this special educational fair will better connect all veterans, both Cherokee and non-Cherokee, with the essential services, resources and benefits available to them from the state, federal and our tribal government,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature informational booths and resources from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Cherokee Nation and other community agencies. It is open to all veterans, their family members and widows of those who served. Lunch will also be provided.

Attendees need to bring a copy of the veteran’s DD Form 214.

For more information or transportation assistance, call the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center at 918-772-4166.


(This article is courtesy of the Native News On Line)


Hundreds of Cherokee elders attended the first-ever Cherokee Nation Elder’s Summit in 2015. With that success, the tribe expanded the second annual Cherokee Nation Elder’s Summit to two locations, Tahlequah and Vinita.

Hundreds of Cherokee elders attended the first-ever Cherokee Nation Elder’s Summit in 2015. With that success, the tribe expanded the second annual Cherokee Nation Elder’s Summit to two locations, Tahlequah and Vinita.

Published September 19, 2016

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee elders across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction are invited to the second annual Cherokee Nation Elder’s Summit. This year’s summit is being held in two locations, Vinita and Tahlequah, in order to reach more elders.

The Elder’s Summit in Vinita will be hosted at the Vinita Health Center on Tuesday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the summit in Tahlequah being hosted at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center on Thursday, September 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Last year’s summit marked the launch of the tribe’s Elder Fraud Protection Initiative. Led by Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, the Cherokee Nation administration, Attorney General’s office and Marshal Service joined forces, seeking to put an end to the growing problem of elder abuse. The coalition continues to collaborate with state and local agencies to prevent elder abuse and prosecute individuals who financially exploit or otherwise abuse Cherokee elders.

“It’s our responsibly to ensure our most valuable, and in many cases our most vulnerable, citizens remain safe from abuse, whether it’s physical or financial or emotional. Our elders should be respected and appreciated for their experience and cultural knowledge. That has always been an important Cherokee value,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We started this awareness and education initiative last year and continue to add more content to better connect Cherokee senior citizens with programs and services that can help them the most.”

Various booths will be set up at the summit locations, offering information on how to spot and report elder abuse and resources if one is a victim. Elder abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Oklahoma. In 2012, Oklahoma Adult Protective Services received nearly 19,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of seniors. Often elders experiencing abuse or exploitation don’t know where to turn or how to seek help.

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