U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the nationwide opioid crisis disproportionately affects Indigenous communities, U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (N.M.-01) called for continued federal resources and consultation with Tribal governments to create community-based solutions during a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation hearing.
Indigenous communities in New Mexico and across the country continue to be among the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, Tribes have historically faced barriers to accessing resources, funding, and data collection. In 2019 alone, the state lost 605 New Mexicans to drug overdoses. Nationwide, drug overdose death rates increased more in Indigenous communities than in any other racial or ethnic group during the COVID pandemic.
Rep. Stansbury’s remarks addressed New Mexico’s high rate of drug overdose and the public health crisis of opioid addiction that disproportionately impacts Tribal and Pueblo communities. Additionally, Stansbury questioned the witness panel, including Maureen Rosette, Board Member of the National Council of Urban Indian Health.
“Our Tribes and our Pueblos, our governments and law enforcement are working every day to address this crisis and to stem the flow of drugs into our communities, to address the public safety crisis that has emerged from it, the crisis of addiction that is touching every member of our communities, and to provide opportunities for healing and addiction recovery,” Stansbury said. “But the system is broken, and we need action now. That’s why it’s crucial that this body pass legislation and meaningful budgets that will help to enable our communities to fight this crisis at home.”
Rep. Stansbury continued by questioning Rosette on the actions the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation could take to support the critical work of the National Council of Urban Indian Health:
“Because of the important work that you do, especially with our Urban Indian Organizations, can you please take just a moment to share with us some of the things that you think that [Congress] can do to help support your work on the ground? Funding is always an obstacle for us. Grants like the State Opioid Response Grant would allow us to provide culturally appropriate treatment in our community, but we were not included. So that’s what needs to happen–is to be included in all these funding grants.”