'Death To Meth' Boasts Message

This appeared in The Rapid City Journal - May 2, 2006

Country-music singer and songwriter Marty Stuart takes the stage today at a musically mixed concert to deliver a message of drug awareness and hope to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Organized by several community members concerned about the prevalence of methamphetamine use on the reservation, Stuart will headline the "Death to Meth" concert that includes local musical acts Spyders Back, Native Era and Stones of Red - formerly Steel River as well as the California band,Antithesis. The free concert will feature musical genres from country rock, rock 'n' roll, hip-hop and gospel.

Concert organizer Saunie Wilson said the event will also feature testimonials and speaker presentations about drug prevention, education and awareness.

"I lost a 15-year-old niece to meth," Wilson said. "We just want to tell the kids before they break for summer about the dangers of it before we bury one more kid on the reservation."

Wilson's niece, Chantel Bacon-Wilson, never formed an addiction to the drug, but she died last November when she used meth for the first time, Wilson said. "It wasn't an overdose. It was a one-time thing, and it killed her."

Wilson, Carole O'Rourk, Charlie White Elk and Beverly Tuttle worked for weeks to create the one-day event to publicize the highly addictive and deadly consequences of the inexpensive drug that they said is sweeping their reservation.

"The whole goal of this concert is to bring awareness, education and prevention of methamphetamine use within our communities," O'Rourk said.

O'Rourk said the speaker program includes the Oglala Sioux Tribe Task Force, Philomine Lakota and Chris Eagle Hawk, who will talk about traditional adolescent ceremonies. A variety of people who are recovering from meth will offer testimonials of their lives.

Indian Health Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Public Health will establish booths and offer information about meth use with recovery and treatment information.

"If someone is moved to say something, we're going to let them talk," Wilson said of the morning programs.

"It's open to the community because we have to recognize that we have such a serious problem here," Wilson said.

By Jomay Steen

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