ON breaks ground on new treatment center

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage Nation officials on April 4 broke ground on a new substance-abuse treatment and counseling center. The multi-million-dollar project is being financed with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Osage Congresswoman Jodie Revard has been the principal sponsor of legislation in the tribal Congress to provide financial support for the construction.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear on Aug. 3, 2021 approved bill number 21-58, authorizing an expenditure of $12 million for the Primary Residential Treatment (PRT) facility project. On Sept. 27, 2022, Chief Standing Bear signed into law bill number 22-86, which earmarked an additional $2,979,736 for the project.

The groundbreaking took place on property at the north end of Elks Lodge Road.

According to an Osage Nation press release on the subject, the new treatment and counseling center is to provide space for the treatment of adults and adolescents, as well as men’s and women’s transitional living space and administrative office space.

 “The PRT Center focuses on comprehensive services specific to men, women and adolescents and their unique problems which include assistance with alcohol and drug treatment, legal problems, medical care, social services, financial training, mental health counseling, cultural diversity, social support, housing assistance, literacy training, and education needs,” the Osage Nation said in its press release.

“Family counseling is offered to assist clients in re-establishing relationships with their family members and to teach clients coping mechanisms in order to maintain these relationships,” the ON press release continued. “Once the client leaves treatment, they are referred to an aftercare program to assist them in maintaining sobriety.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony April 4, Congresswoman Revard praised other sponsors of the funding legislation, including former Congress Speaker Angela Pratt. Revard also noted that the tribal executive and legislative branches had worked together.

“This was the result of both branches working together to prioritize the needs of our people,” she said. Revard added that she had previously received treatment services through the Osage Nation that made an important difference in her life.

“I’m here because I went to our treatment facility,” she said.

Cindra Shangreau, chairwoman of the Osage Nation’s Health Authority Board, said the treatment facility project had faced opposition.

“This project has been faced with some major opposition,” Shangreau said, adding: “Our chief, our Congress have never abandoned hope.”

Other groundbreaking speakers included Mark Rogers, who was appointed CEO of the WahZhaZhe Health Center last July, and Stacy Lookout, who is director of the Osage Nation’s counseling and substance abuse treatment efforts.

Lookout gave a brief overview of the history of the Osage Nation’s programs for providing assistance to troubled citizens.

Photo caption: Mark Rogers, CEO of the WahZhaZhe Health Center, ON Congresswoman Jodie Revard and Osage Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear were among Osage Nation officials who welcomed the breaking of ground April 4 for a new tribal substance abuse treatment and counseling center.